Mr. Krishan Kumar Katyal (KKK)

Mr. Krishan Kumar Katyal

Biology Teacher (1964-1981)

In the second term of 1964, Mr. K. K. Katyal, from Hoshiarpur, joined the Senior Section of The Punjab Public School, Nabha as Biology teacher.  He had earlier taught in   DAV College, Jalandhar. It was an  auspicious start because  Vandana, his second daughter, was born  on August 15th , just after he joined.

He was the second teacher after Mr. OP Bhatnagar (Hindi and Arts)  to have joined school leaving a college job. Mr. Kate, the founder headmaster, was an expert in finding the best talent for the school. He was one of the Pillars, the staff of 1960s, who established the reputation of the School.

‘The Pillars’ of the School who were responsible for building the great reputation of the School in 1960s. Mr Katyal is second from left in the middle row standing.

Popularly known as K3 or 3Ks – (One class even called him Kashmir Ki Kali, though he was neither Kashmiri nor a Kali during 1960s). He was  also called King Kong Katta in 70s because of his built and last name. Mr. Katyal was medium built, slightly on the heavier side , a well-rounded chubby face with a thin line or apology of a moustache riding his upper lip and a balding head covering a sharp brain. He was an excellent teacher of Biology. His teaching skills made sure that his students grasped the subject well. He did not make them just learn Biology but understand it and love it. He mixed his teaching with strictness and humour. It is no small complement for him, if I may say, that in his 17 years of stay, he produced 100 doctors or more from the school, that too when the focus of school children was on joining the Armed Forces. Considering that schools are judged on the performance of their alumni, Mr. Katyal played a great role in enhancing the great reputation of the school in its first two decades.

He was fully devoted to his subject. In fact, he created the Bio Lab and made models  of a complex nature. He made a beautiful model of DNA for his pupils. The Biology Section of the Founders’ Day exhibition was always par excellence.

He authored a Biology text book and a workbook and subsequently served as the Head Examiner of Biology for the ICSE board for many years.

The Biology exhibition on the Founders’ Day, 1969. Chief Guest Air Chief Marshall Arjan Singh. Looking on, from left Mr JK Kate in robe, Mrs Arjan Singh and Chief Minister Justice Gurnam Singh in white turban.

Apart from being an excellent teacher, he had qualities that endeared  him to many. His flair for theatre, led to  production of some of the finest and exceptional plays on the PPS Stage in those years, for example, classics like “Godaan” by Munshi Premchand , the famous English play “The Mousetrap” written by master of mystery, Agatha Christie. (It happens to be the longest running play in London since last world war) and “Ashad Ka Ek Din” by Mohan Rakesh (this was in co-direction with Mr. SC Sharma, Chemistry teacher) , considered to be the first modern Hindi play. He also staged some hilarious comedies like “Paanch Pound Kum” and “Thalloo and Mathalloo”. He had special training in facial makeup for different characters in a play. He excelled in it. Even artist teachers like Mr. OP Bhatnagar learnt this art from him.

Scene from the play ‘Mousetrap’

He was a true Punjabi, who loved good food and is believed to have been a good cook, sharing the kitchen with or replacing Mrs. Katyal at times, and playing a gracious host to many. He had no bias and loved sweets, namkeen, and chilies equally.

Being a Biologist, he grew different decorative plants and had a very nice garden in his house to brighten it up.  It stood out in the Staff Colony. He also grew vegetables, which were shared with neighbours. Whatever he did, he was totally involved and immersed in it.

He was very much a family man, looking after the interests of all. When hardly any teacher had a scooter, he was proud of his Lambretta scooter, to which he added an extended seat so that he could carry all his family (wife and three kids) together. He taught his children the valuable lessons of life. According to Vandana,  “he will always be our hero. Not because he was our dad, but because he was an  educator. As a father and a teacher, he was kind and patient, wise, and knowledgeable. From him, we learned  valuable life lessons, and academic lessons which added immense value to our lives”.

While he was dedicated to  his job and other activities , graceful and charming Mrs. Katyal was totally involved in raising her three kids and looking after the house. According to Mr. OP Bhatnagar, “Mr. Katyal was a lively man and enjoyed life. It was a joy to be in his company. He had a level of sophistication, and so had Mrs. Katyal (who was a trained teacher herself). Mr. and Mrs. Katyal were a sophisticated couple and great hosts”. In later years with children grown up, Mrs. Katyal taught Hindi for ten years in  Jain Model School at Nabha.

The picture of 1960s, shows Mrs Katyal on the left with Ms. GB Malkani,  Miss Asha Tikka Ram, Ms McMullen and Mrs Singh.

Below: Mrs. Katyal managing a birthday party with staff kids in the staff colony. Also in the picture are Mrs. Bhatnagar and Mrs. Ram Singh.

Many teachers joining in earlier years had not done B.Ed., an essential degree for teachers. On encouragement from Mr. JK Kate , most of them would go to Ajmer to study for B.Ed. in summer vacations. Mr. Katyal followed suit. In 1969, he took the course and stood second in the University in B. Ed. examination of Rajasthan University, Ajmer.

Another significant feature during Mr. JK Kate’s tenure was the opportunities available to teachers to go abroad to the UK or the USA to further hone their skills as teachers and learn the latest teaching techniques from Western schools. These were available as bursaries or fellowships courtesy the programs run by governments of these two countries. Selection was always competitive at national level. When someone asked Mr. Kate how he could afford to send his teachers abroad for a year and if the school did not suffer because of their going away. Mr. Kate said when the teachers come back after acquiring knowledge and learning the latest teaching techniques, his teachers, school and students all  gained.  In September 1970, Mr. Katyal was selected to go to St. John’s ,York. He left for the UK, on Commonwealth Teachers Training Bursary. He returned almost nine months later in 1971 after having attained PG Diploma of Leeds University in Science Education with a distinction.

In December,1972, Mr. KK Katyal was invited by the Department of Science Education, NCERT, New Delhi to review manuscripts of new biology text-books. The invitation was extended to him under UNESCO Project for Improvement of Science Education.

With ISC 1972 batch. Seated to right of AR Gupta the Headmaster (picture courtsey Dr Ranjit Dhaliwal)

In 1974 for the first time Mr. Katyal was given the responsibility of Housemastership of Ravi House. After a wonderful stint as housemaster for four years , he relinquished it in December , 1979.

He played an active role in Poultry farm, the Student Council and the Ecology and Nature Club a Youth wing of WLL Fund.

After gloriously serving the school for 17 years and producing wonderful students who went on to excel in their fields, came the time for Mr. Katyal to find greener pastures and move upwards in his career graph. Partly it was his breathing problem that made him decide to shift to the more congenial air of Mussoorie. In January1981, a special assembly was organized as the school community bade farewell to Mr. K.K.Katyal, Head of the Biology Department. Mr. Katyal had taught at PPS for almost two decades (seventeen years).

He further enriched the list of Ex-PPS staff members who were heading various schools when he took over as Principal of Mussoorie Public School, Mussoorie. He spent almost twenty years there giving his best to the School.

In the list above of the PPS masters who became Headmasters published in the Coffee Table Book at the Occassion of the Golden Jubilee of The PPS in 2010, Mr KK Katyla is  at no.10. The list is not in order of seniority.

While at Mussoorie in the nineties, he developed a serious illness for which he had to make frequent trips to AIIMS at Delhi . Dr Satish Jain, his student at The PPS, was undergoing training there and was very helpful to his Guru.

In 2000 he took final retirement and like a true native,  he went back to his roots in Hoshiarpur to settle down. In December 2001, he even went to see “The PPS Equestrian Show” in Chandigarh organized by ONA. But his good condition did not last long. He soon fell ill again and passed away in a Jalandhar Hospital in May, 2002.

It must be mentioned here that he had three children, one daughter born before he joined the school and the other two, daughter and son were born while he served in The PPS. All three  children studied in the school and are proud Old Nabhaites. Older daughter Archana Katyal (R-307,1978) married Old Nabhaite Dr. Rupinder Brar (S-291,1968). Second daughter is Vandana Katyal (R-344, 1979) a Scientist with patents to her name (both are settled in the USA) .The youngest was son, late Puneet Katyal (R-425,1981) who passed away few years back.

Satff children enjoyed the security and kinship of an extended family in the Staff Colony.

There were very few girls in school during the 1970s. A natural lasting friendship developed  among them. Both Katyal daughters were among them.

Girls with Mr KPK Tandon: Seated L to R Hardeep Deol, Radhika Puri, Deepa Johri, Mrs. KP Tandon, Gurpreet Kalyan, Deepshika Nigam, Samita Johri, Standing L to R  Surdeep, Vandana Katyal, Jaskiran Shaheed, Ravi Deep, Prabhjot, Anshu Verma, Romi Nijjar and Archana Katyal.

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The last  big event/ activity of The PPS witnessed by Mr. KK Katyal

 

In 2001, watching “Tthe PPS Equestrian Show” organised by ONA on Police gorunds, Chandigarh.Mr. and Mrs. Tandon (white beard) are on his right.

A candid shot of Mr Tandon and Mr Katyal at the show.

VIPs

Public spectators

Tent pegging

Chief Guest His Excellency,  the Governor of Punjab. Gen  JFR Jacob

Hurdles

The Band

With Chief Guest

Aerobics by Girls

Words from the Chief Guest


Daredevil

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A bridge between first and Second generation of teachers appointed by Mr. JK Kate

The first generation teachers joined in 1960-61.  The second generation teachers started coming in by 1968. Mr Katyal having joined in 1964 was a bridge between the two generations of teachers.

Chief guest Air Chief Marshall Arjan Singh (1969) being introduced to staff  by Mr JK Kate, the Headmaster.  Here from right are Mr. RS Sibal, Mr. PN Mathu, Mr. KK Katyal talking to Mr. KC Tandon then Mr. OP Bhatnagar. The teachers usaully were photographed or introduced to guests by seniority.

These teachers were all selected by the ace Headhunter Mr. JK Kate, the founding headmaster of The PPS. He had an astute eye for spotting talent to fill teachers’ posts in a Public School. He picked them up from diverse institutes and backgrounds like IMA, NDA, Modern School and RIMC etc. Mr. OP Bhatnagar of Hindi and Mr. KK Katyal of Biology were plucked from colleges. Mr. Katyal came from DAV College, Jallandhar, Mr. Bhatnagar came from a Lucknow Chistian College, Lucknow.They were all outstanding and Mr. Kate as a captain of the team got them to perform at the highest level. No wonder the School enjoyed a reputation by mid sixties that equalled the best schools in the country.

The teachers who stayed after Mr. Kate left in 1972,  carried on his legacy. His influence stayed far beyond his tenure through the teachers he had appointed and nurtured into a dedicated, hard working and multi-tasking bunch. They even learnt from Mr Kate , how to run a Public School (most of them were not from Public Schools). No wonder most of them became heads of important schools in the country. Almost 26 teachers appointed by him headed different well known schools.

When Mr. Kate left the School to move to Daly College, Indore as Headmaster, he was given a very fond farewell. In the picture above, his car tied with ropes is being towed by teachers, staff and students till the school gate (1972). Mr. Katyal can be seen in the right row of pullers third from the front, in front of him is Mr. SL Nigam. Mr. Katyal went on to serve the School till Jan 1980. He later moved to head The Mussoorie Public School, Mussoorie (Utrakhand).

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Mention  of Mr. KK Katyal in the chronicles:

It gives an idea of the multiple activities he undertook in school during his tenure. These have been written under the different issues of The Chronicle.

August ,1964

Mr. K.K.Katyal joined the Senior Section as Biology teacher from Govt College Hoshiarpur, starting auspiciously with birth of a daughter on August 15th.

Jan 1965

Mr VN Bhave, IB Kakkar and KK Katyal attended the IPSC  Masters conference at Doon School, Dehradun.

June-July 1965

Following attended the Summer Institutes for Teachers:

YP Johri- Mathematics at Kurukshetra

VN Bhave- Chemistry at Chandigarh.

KK Katyal- Biology at Delhi

Second term 1967

Congratulations to Mr and Mrs. Katyal for the birth of their son. (Puneet)

20th, April, 1968

Mr BS Bhatnagar organized a Brains Trust. Most questions were on science. Mr Kakar and Mr Katyal were kept busy. (may,1968 vol 65)

May, 1968  (June chronicle)

Most Teachers were busy in holidays either doing B.Ed. (Mrs. KP Tandon, OP Bhatnagar, KK Katyal) in Ajmer or attending Summer Institutes in Maths and Physics at Kurukshetra and Dehradun Like Mr Nijjar , Mr Johri. Mr Kakar and Mr Nigam.

July issue 1968, Vol 67

In June,1968 , Mr Tandon and Mr Katyal returned strained from Ajmer by the strenuous mental labour.

26th July, 1968

Mrs. KP Tandon, OP Bhatnagar and Mr KK Katyal took the B.Ed. exam of Rajasthan University from regional College of Education, Ajmer.

And

Mr KK Katyal has taken over as staff adviser to the School Council.

29th Oct

Mr KK Katyal cleared his B.Ed. exam.  Mr KK Katyal (second), Mr OP Bhatnagar(4th) and Mrs. KP Tandon(5th) did well in B.Ed. exam at Ajmer securing positions in the University.

In 1968, Mr Katyal was Asstt. Housemaster to Mr IB Kakkar , the House master of Beas House.

September 1970 (Oct issue)

Mrs. KP Tandon (U of Southampton) and Mr. Katyal (St John’s York) left for UK on Commonwealth Teachers’ Training Bursaries to acquire latest teaching methods in their subjects.

June, 1971

We welcome back Mr. KK Katyal from England. He studied at the University of Leeds for his PG Diploma in Science education which he obtained with distinction.

August 1971 (September issue)

In the Wednesday Forum , Mr. KK Katyal spoke on his experience in England and Europe and later showed some interesting slides.

February 1972

18th Feb

School Council had a meeting.

Mr. KK Katyal attended Poultry Service School at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.

December,1972

Mr KK Katyal was invited by the Department of Science Education, NCERT, New Delhi to review manuscripts of new biology text-books. The invitation was extended to him under UNESCO Project for Improvement of Science Education.

2nd   August,1973

Mr. KK Katyal gave a talk on Ringworms in the morning Assembly.

March ,1974

Mr. Katyal has been appointed House master of Ravi House.

4th August, 1975

A talk on cancer was delivered by Mr. KK Katyal in the Assembly.

 

Mr Katyal seated extreme right in a staff picture of 1969

December, 1979

Mt. Tandon, Mr. KS Nijjar, Mr KK Katyal and SML Nigam have retired from Housemastership.

In February, 1979

M/S KC Tandon, KS Nijjar and KK Katyal were given touching send-offs by their respective houses on retirement from Housemastership. Class IX students bade farewell to the outgoing students of Class X.

August,1980

The Ecology and Nature Club, a youth Movement of WWL Fund has come into existence in the school and got registered (R.No; 502/n-4/1979). Headmaster will be Advisor and Mr. KK Katyal as Asstt. Advisor of the Club.

End of First Term,1981

A special assembly was organized as the school community bade farewell to Mr..K.K.Katyal, Head of the Biology Department. Mr..Katyal had taught at PPS for almost two decades. He further enriched the list of Ex-PPS staff members who were heading various schools when he took over as Principal of Mussorie Public School, Mussorie.

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                              Mr. KK Katyal the Dramatist

As mentioned earlier Mr. Katyal was a multi-talented personality. His foremost talent used by school was his feel of the drama and ability to bring out the fine nuances as desired by the playwright.  He directed or helped others in directing many wonderful plays on the stage of The Punjab Public School, Nabha in his tenure of 17years.

An example is the magnum opus production of  the Hindi play “Godaan” based on the famous story by the great Hindi writer Munshi Prem Chand.

Mr. JK Kate in his essay on the first twelve years of The Punjab Public School Nabha written at the time of the Silver jubilee of the School in 1985 titled “Pride of Punjab” wrote about it. According to himWith the impetus given to house plays, class plays and school-plays, our achievements in the field of dramatics and music were above average.  Mr. Katyal’s production of, “Godaan” a Hindi play, was praised by one and all.” No other play was mentioned by him in similar vein.

Following is a review of the Play as carried in the Chronicle. The play was enacted in 1970 on the Founders ‘day.

April 1970 issue Page 10.

The reviewer was most impressed by the young school children depict the life of a distant hamlet in UP with such accuracy in their portrayals , speaks volumes for the direction and skill of Mr. KK Katyal.

Some scenes from the play:

From left Inderjit Kalra, Satish Jain and Nikhil Sharma (Jumna)

Satish Jain (R-107,1970) on the left as Gobar in Godaan

Mr. Katyal was not only a great director but also a great make-up artist. He could make up his actors with such finesse that they fitted their character aptly. Even Mr. OP Bhatnagar the popular art teacher in the early years of School had great admiration for him. He says, “KKK had special talent in dramatics. He was a great stage actor and director. He had undergone training in facial make up. I learnt several tricks of facial make up from him”.

As per Dr. Satish Jain his student “Mr. Katyal asked me to do the role of Gobar in the first full length play “Godaan” that was to be staged on the Founders Day in March 1970. I couldn’t have ever said no to him and a series of endless rehearsals followed, many of those went well into the nights. We got to spend a lot of time at his house for those rehearsals during which he seemed to be totally engrossed in the play to the extent that he was ignoring his family life. On the day of the dress rehearsal, Mr. Katyal and Mr. OPB gave me a special haircut and glued my hair at various places to make me look a rustic villager. During the final dress rehearsal, I became very emotional and couldn’t hold my tears in the scene where I was leaving the village along with my wife in the play. Many in the audience were crying for quite some time. After the play was over, Mr. Katyal gave me a big hug with tears still in his eyes!!”.

Dr Satish Jain as Gobar in Godaan

 Another student Dr Rajan Paul Soni (S-69,1968) writes, “I had the opportunity to work under him in dramatics also, a great dramatist he happened to be. He was very humorous on stage and I vividly remember his laughter drama, wearing a “Fantedar Pyjama“.  With his guidance I along with Pradeep Sethi  (S-72,1968) coined a short skit improvised and written at same time. It became the most appreciated and popular skit during that time with comedian characters “Thalloo & Mathalloo“.

Dr Ved Parkash Beniwal (R-60,1968) also known as dhobi for a character he performed in a play with uncommon elan,  was a popular actor in those years of 1960s. He honed his skills under the guidance of Mr. Katyal. He has this to say of Mr. Katyal, “He spotted and encouraged my interest in dramatics from early on. Were it not for his mentoring I may not have had the opportunity for a lead role in the annual school plays for most of my years at PPS, with him as Director. It was during the rehearsals of these plays, under his watchful eyes, that I realised the perfectionist in him. His attention to detail was painfully uncompromising, but forever enriching. It inspired me to work my hardest, if only to  please him. He was not so generous with his compliments. That he left to the audience on the final day. After repeated takes during rehearsals when we got it right the most one could hope for was his “OK”, with a smile.

One incident remains etched in my memory. It was when rehearsing for a play that he wanted me to limit my distracting hand movements and instead maintain focus of the audience, more on the substance, the tone, and the words of a crucial dialogue. I tried hard to satisfy him for two days, but in vain. Finally, with concealed frustration, he tied both my hands behind my back, and we did a few more retakes. It worked. Even I was surprised to see the improvements in my dialogue delivery, and relieved to finally receive his customary ‘OK’, with a smile”.

Dr Ved Parkash (R-60, 1968) on the right in the role of a doctor in a Hindi comedy “Paanch Pound Kum” with Surinderpal Waraich (S-80,1968) in the middle and Kulbhushan Singh (R-82,1969).

Mousetrap

Another classic play that was very tough to produce because of its typical British background and characters and its countryside location was produced by Mr. Katyal. It was the famous English play “The Mousetrap” written by master of mystery, Agatha Christie. (It happens to be the longest running play in London since 1952). It was a huge challenging task. Mr. Katyal somehow, managed to get a great performance from his school children. The play was highly appreciated considering its intricacies and Indian school students trying to portray a typically British that too Agatha Christie play.

Below is what the School Chronicle had to say:

Due to poor printing the second page was not comfortably readable. I have below continued (to type for reading) from where the first page ended:-

(Charanjit Kapoor) and the two are united once again.

The play as whole went off smoothly and was well received by the audience. Each one of the male actors was superb in portraying his role but the fair sex somewhat let down the show. They could not modulate their voice suitably or bring any kind of expression on their faces. Which were like images carved in stone..

The stage management, lights and special effects were efficiently executed. Indeed, it is difficult to point out any serious lacunae in the performance except perhaps that the full impact of horror and terror, the tension and fearful uncertainty found in the original play could not be dramatized. The solitary episode which frightened the audience was the convincing shrieking involved in the death of Mrs. Boyle (Credit to Alka). The editing , maybe, overplayed the investigation. Somehow the eerie atmosphere of lurking death was missing on the stage. Similarly, the suspicion which  Agatha cast on each person in the story was insufficiently dramatized. However, these are fine details recondite to those who haven’t read the play and if the performance on the stage is judged without reference to the original and keeping in mind its amateur standard , it was a magnificent performance- the high spot of the whole Founders ‘day function one might say. Kudos to M/S Katyal and Aggarwal for their hard labour and skill.

A scene from the Play Mousetrap. Incidentally, Vandana Katyal (d/o Mt Katyal) is the character on the right.

The cast of Mousetrap

With the cast of two other plays :

Another famous and much recogonised Play, that Mr. Katyal helped Mr. SC Sharma (Chemistry) stage , was the Hindi Play  “Ashad Ka Ek Din” by Rakesh Mohan. It is considered to be the first modern Hindi play. It was highly appreciated and received  accolades from one and all.

Picture of daughters Archana and Vandana Katyal after both had taken part that evening in a variety entertainment.

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Mr. KK Katyal and The ONA

The Old Nabhaites Association got in touch with Mr Katyal in 1990s when he was still Principal of Mussoorie Public School. Dr Jashanjot (S-52,1967) had visited his former Guru with his family, on a visit to Mussorrie. Thereafter, ONA invited him for few functions in the PPS especially at November,  1999 ONA Meeting and again at the ONA Millenium meet  called “Revdevous 2000” in  the year 2000 where many old gurus of 1960s had been invited and honoured. However, given his health he could not make it. But he sent a very nice letter to the ONA President Navin Talwar (S71,1969) and Dr Jashanjot. It is reproduced below:

The letter vividly brings out his love and affection for all his former students of The Punjab Public School, Nabha and how much regard he had for their well being. He was a good host and looked forward to the visit  of Old Nabhaites to his house at Mussoorie . He even wanted his contact to be shared with Old Nabhaites for the purpose.

Above all, he was very apprecaitive of ‘The Eagle’ brought out by Dr Jashanjot and Ashwani Aggarwal (J-188,1974), which shared news of Old Nabhaites, old anecdotes of school days and present news of the school. It had become a binding force for Old Nabhaites and brought them all closer.

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“The ONA late KK Katyal Memorial award for best Karamchari

On one of the Fouders’Day. Behind tall General Harbaksh Singh Board member is Mr. KK Katyal. Sardar Gurdarshan Singh local MLA and Mr. JK Kate can be seen in front row. 

As articulated by Vandana, “Our father embodied an extraordinary level of empathy and compassion for the underprivileged, consistently translating his principles into actions.”

In the latter half of 2002, I received an email from Vandana, which laid the foundation for a remarkable initiative:

“We have collectively resolved, in honour of our cherished father’s enduring legacy, to establish an Annual Award of Rs.10,000 designated for a support staff or ‘karamchari’. This philanthropic endeavour, a collaborative effort by the offspring of Mr. Katyal – Archana (R-307, 1977), Vandana (R-344, 1978), and Puneet (R-425, 1981), is poised to be bestowed annually during the commemoration of Gandhi Jayanti on the 2nd of October. Our vision entails the active participation of four students, each representing one of the school’s houses across all grades, in the selection process of the most deserving ‘karamchari’ or employee.

This meticulously crafted framework remains firmly within the ONA (Old Nabhaites Association) fold.

This commitment is not ephemeral; rather, it is a lifetime pledge that necessitates only a gentle annual reminder, typically during the months of June and July, lest it slip our collective consciousness. We recall with fondness the tradition of the Community Dinner held on the 2nd of October each year at PPS, wherein the families of support staff employees or karamcharis were graciously invited, and students and staff joined hands to serve dinner. Subsequently, small tokens of appreciation were distributed. We assume that this tradition endures, making it the most fitting occasion for award presentation. However, we are also open to alternative suggestions that align with the spirit of this noble initiative.”

(From 2003 to 2012, ever year I received the money for the award from Vandana’s brother-in-law in Chandigarh which was passed to the School authorities to be awarded on the Founders ‘Day. From then on,  the money has been directly transferred to School authorities  every year. The amount has also been enhanced keeping the inflation in mind).

Dr Jashanjot Singh , (S-52,1967)

1981 Founders’Day. Sardar Harcharan Singh Ajnala, Minister government of Punjab is chief guest (His two sons Harpartap B-45,1967 and Harjodh B-64,1968 studied in the school). Behind and  between Col Naunihal Singh Mann and Lt Gen Harbaksh Singh is seated Mr. KK Katyal. 

From the annals of the Chronicle:

September 2003

The 43rd Founders’ Day was presided over by Justice O.P. Verma (Retd.), who had assumed the esteemed position of Governor of Punjab and ex-officio Chairman of the School Board of Governors earlier in the year. A momentous announcement was made during this distinguished event – the establishment of a prestigious cash award amounting to Rs.10,000, honouring the memory of the late Mr. K.K. Katyal. This esteemed initiative was sponsored by his accomplished daughters and esteemed alumni of PPS, Vandana Katyal (Ex R-344) and Archana Katyal (Ex R-307). Named the “ONA Late KK Katyal Memorial Award for Best Karamchari,” this commendable recognition is bestowed upon five exemplary Class IV employees, with each recipient receiving a sum of Rs. 2,000. Notably, the purpose of this award has evolved to support the Muskaan and Prayaas clubs, enriching the lives of the children of the dedicated karamcharis.

The list of awards offered by Old Nabhaites Association in the School as published in the Coffee Table Book released at the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the School in 2010.

The KK Katyal Memorial Award is mentioned at section ‘c’ on page 179.

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Mr Katyal shaking hands with Chief Guest Sardar Harcharan Singh Ajnala in 1980 (he was speaker of Punjab Assembly and education minister at another time. His sons Harpartap (1967) and Harjodh (1968) were Old Nabhaites) . Mr Katyal’s  position in the staff line suggests he had become one of the senior most by now.

A staff picture of 1978 when Mr Punia was the acting Headmaster. Mr Katyal is seated fourth from right

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Remembering  Mr. K. K. Katyal  

Mr. KK Katyal in later years

 To Sir with Love  (A Tribute) 

(this was published in ‘The Eagle’ issue of ONA after the passing away of MR. KK Katyal)

The year was 1967, the month was May.  It was time to fill the examination forms along with subjects for each student appearing in ISC (Senior Cambridge), in December.  The newspapers were full of strikes and riots by engineers due to unemployment.  Five of us (Additional Math students, worried about our future as engineers), Bhupinder Grewal (S-50), Shivinder Athwal (B-108), Inderbir Khokha (R-154), Gurjit Dhillon (B-69), and I, approached the senior master, the great Mr SC Cowell, to allow us to take up Biology as an additional subject.  Mr. Cowell put up the matter to Mr. JK Kate, the Headmaster.  Mr. Kate agreed but let the final word rest with the Biology teacher whose job it would be to take extra classes for only five of us and prepare us for the Biology exam in 5 months.  With apprehension, we approached the Biology teacher.  To our amazement, he readily agreed.  He was none other than Mr. KK Katyal.  Popularly known as K3 or 3Ks. Medium-built, obese and balding, he had the finesse of drilling into his students the subject he taught so well.  Then began a period of hectic classes in the afternoon.  The extra class at times lasted more than an hour. We would be sleepy after a heavy lunch but K3’s energy kept us awake.  In the hot afternoons, We could see beads of sweat on his forehead.  He taught us so well that two out of the five topped our class in Biology in ISC exam.

Three of us, Shivinder (UK), Inderbir Khokha (USA) and I became doctors later in life.  Bhupinder became an Engineer in the Army and Gurjit (retired as Lt. Gen., DG Supply Corps but a Brigadier at time of writing this tribute and heading for great heights, having successfully attended National Defence College).

Many years later I visited Mussoorie with my family.  I knew sir (KKK) was there as Headmaster of Mussoorie Public School.  We all went to meet him.  I was proud to be able to introduce my kids to the Sir who changed the course of my life.  We had a wonderful lunch with him and Mrs. Katyal.  A few years earlier he had been troubled by a growth in the neck and had been successfully treated at AIIMS, courtesy Dr Satish Jain (R-107), another of his students from PPS.  Now his weight was significantly reduced, movements were slowed and even a little exertion made him breathless.  His once forceful voice had become subdued.  When things became difficult for him in the hills at Mussoorie, where he was continuing to serve at the insistence of the management, he decided to come down to his native Hoshiarpur to settle down and spend his last years.

Last year (2001, I got a phone call from him that he was very unwell.  I immediately asked him to come to Jalandhar and got him admitted with a physician friend.  My friend Dr Kapil Gupta would joke with Sir and say to him, “I have to make you fit again because I want you to teach my son Biology the way you taught Jashanjot.”  He recovered to a large extent and went back to Hoshiarpur.  But as doctors we knew his failing lungs could not support him for long.  When he was better he even went to see the ‘ONA Equestrian Show’ in Chandigarh with his son but thereafter, his health deteriorated. During his time of illness, Mrs. Katyal was always by his side – a picture of Indian womanhood. His children – all Old Nabhaites, were however, far away and could be with him only in patches.  Puneet, his son, was on the high seas in Merchant Navy, and his daughters, Archana and Vandana, flew in and out of India to see him, having settled in USA.

In the last few days (2002), he was again admitted in my friend’s hospital – this time a little more serious.  On the morning of 25th May, 2002, I got a call from Dr Kapil Gupta  who said with a choked voice, that “your Sir passed away this morning”.  I rushed immediately. When I reached the hospital, I went straight  to the bed, where his body (it had been curtained off) lay.  I had to say last good-bye.  I picked up his limp hand with tears in my eyes and kissed it with a prayer for his soul in my heart.

Dr Jashanjot (S-52,1967)

Self with daughters and Mr KK Katyal, when I visited him in Mussoorie in early 1990s

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A Friend and Gentleman

( Written by Mr. OP Bhatnagar. colleague of Mr. Katyal in school. Both came to The PPS leaving college jobs). 

KKK has been one of those who sacrificed their University career to serve PPS. He was teaching graduate classes when Mr. Kate picked him up to teach Biology in PPS. Mr. Kate always made right choices. The lure of Kairon Block brought this energetic and smart young man to PPS.

He was fully devoted to his subject. In fact, he created the Bio Lab. Made models  of complex nature. He made a beautiful model of DNA for his pupils. He loved plants. He decorated his residence with decorative plant around his house in the staff colony near the playgrounds. He also grew vegetables. He was quite a “foody” and enjoyed good food. Like a true Panjabi, he was blessed with a good appetite. Naturally, he was overweight, though not obese. He was a lively man and enjoyed life. It was a joy to be in his company. Katyals were great hosts.

KKK was not B. Ed.  Regional college (now Institute) of Education, Ajmer, run by NCERT, started  Summer-cum-Correspondence Course for untrained in-service teachers. BSB joined it in 1967. I, KKK and Mrs. KPK Tandon joined in 1968 and finished in 69. KKK was my roommate in hostel. He used to sleep early and get up at about 2am to study.

KKK had special talent in dramatics. He was a great stage actor and director. He had undergone training in facial make up. I learnt several tricks of facial make up from him.

He had a level of sophistication, and so had Mrs. Katyal. She was a teacher herself. Unfortunately, KKK got Housemastership after a long wait. It was not his or anyone else’s fault. He became Housemaster in 1974.

Housemastership is administrative experience, necessary for principalship. He ultimately picked the principalship of Mussoorie Public School, District Dehradun, UP. He nurtured that School very well. As luck would have it, he suffered from cancer, and, while in harness, left for his heavenly abode. We remember him as a very nice friend and fine gentleman.

O.P. Bhatnagar, MA

1960-1970 (taught Hindi and Art.)

Mr. KK Katyal sitting on extreme right and Mr. OP Bhatnagar sitting fifth from left between Mr. GS Punia and Miss GB Malkani.Staff  Picture from 1969 with Mr. JK Kate sitting in the center.

Mr OP Bhatnagar (Hindi and Arts ) sketching at a school picnic in 1960s

Mr. OP Bhatnagar in 2023 in Pune staying with his daughter and Vilas Jagan Nath  Kate (S-96,1970)  in 2023 

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A very good master 

I also recall Mr. Katyal who taught me biology. He was a very good master and I scored fairly high marks in Biology. (From an article he wrote on his school days in The PPS).

 Mr Katyal who shaped many a future. I remember him as a lively Master who was a;ways willing to spend time to help a student. I dropped biology in class XI as I intended to pursue a career in engineering but even after more than half a century, I still remember what Mr Katyal taught me.

— 

Best Regards,
Ashok Balwani (R-90,1966)
Balwani.Ashok@gmail.com

(He was formerly the President of Man Industries (India) Limited, a USD 500 million company. He also served for a long time as Vice President of DNV, a Norwegian company heading different departments and geographies)

 Ashok Balwani now and when in school below

Ashok Balwani in School days 

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Our Salute

Our salute to the likes of Mr. J.K. Kate and Mr. K.K. Katyal who were epitome of sincere, transparent and truthful conduct.

Late Col Hardev Bajwa (S-25,1966)

(from an article , ‘Storm in a Teacup’ in ‘The Eagle’ highlighting no cheating or wrongful means used in The PPS during ISC examinations).

Late Col Hardev Bajwa on the left with Jaspal Chatha (R-89 ,1966) Prof of Economics, Hanemann College, New York and Dr Jashanjot (S-52,1967)

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Dedication to students 

About Mr. Katyal our Biology teacher: He played a pivotal role in transforming my future. I had never ever considered medicine as a profession till some of us Maths students were asked to take biology as a subject in our final year and were introduced to our teacher Mr. Katyal, who paved the way by his excellent teaching of the subject and putting in long hours to cover the entire subject in a short time period. Thanks to his dedication to his students, I benefitted by becoming a doctor.

Dr. Inderbir Khokha (R-154,1967)

Dr Inderbir Khokha who became a Urologist and is settled in USA.

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Loved his Class 

We loved going to Mr. Katyal’s class which was in the Biology lab. Other than playing with the skeleton which was there, we enjoyed his class. He was an excellent teacher and knew his subject well. I think the boys enjoyed dissection as it gave them an opportunity to do some mischief. Once Vineet (J-72) and Vinod (J-65) managed to topple a whole box of cockroaches which Mr. Katyal had collected. Needless to say, after collecting the cockroaches which took two whole periods to do, we were all punished. 

Jyoti Kate (R-52,1967)  (daughter of the Founder Headmaster Mr. JK Kate, who appointed Mr. Katyal on the staff)

Young Jyoti Kate in School with the Mallon Family. She is standing in front of Mr. John Mallon who is no more. He had been sent by British Council to head the English department of the School from 1965 to 1968 on request of Mr. JK Kate.

In 2008 reunion of 1967 batch, Jyoti Kate cutting the cake with Lt Gen RS Sujlana (B-134). Late Col Amarjit Malik looking on (S-46) 

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My Darling Teacher

In the year1966 I had opted for Higher Maths out of the three streams.

Mr. JK Kate, Hon’ble HM walked into our class and said “Rajan why  can’t you take Biology as an additional subject?”.     I was taken aback but dare not say ‘No’ to my revered Headmaster. “Perhaps this is for your better future” , although I used to focus on entering the NDA.

Next , Mr. Kate made special arrangements so that my Maths & Biology classes didn’t clash. Mr. K K Katyal was our biology teacher, a gem of a person. He was a very fine teacher who made biology subject look very easy and interesting. He was always very friendly with the students.

I had the opportunity to work under him in dramatics also, a great dramatist he happened to be. He was very humorous on stage and I vividly remember his laughter drama, wearing a “Fantedar Pyjama”.  With his guidance, I, along with Pradeep Sethi  (S-72,1968) coined a short skit which was liked the most that time with comedian characters “Thalloo & Mathalloo”.

He was one of the finest , and my favourite teacher He chiseled  me to what I am today.

In our sent-up practical exams I remember him having helped me indirectly  by giving me a hint. He said, “Rajan look, look , I am putting this (the insect) in the jar with an animal in water. NOTE it.” The demo was of ‘Parasitic phenomenon’, we had to infer the title.

So, such teachers who intermingled with their students so well, are hard to forget.

I wish his soul peace and  the very best where ever he is, for being my darling teacher. 

Dr Rajan Soni , M.S. (General Surgery), (S-69,1968)

Dr Rajan Paul Soni above. 

Dr Soni with better half celebrating his 70th. Birthday in 2022

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Punjabi to the hilt 

Mr. K Katyal, fondly nicknamed by our class as ‘Kashmir Ki Kali’(a popular Hindi movie at that time), was neither a Kashmiri nor a Kali. He was a jovial bit rotund Punjabi to the hilt.

He had a flair for the drama and humour which he employed extensively in and outside the classroom.  He would make teaching the anatomy and physiology exciting with his dramatic presentation and lifelike diagrams. Often he would burst out a dialogue from the stage, story or a movie to drive home his point in pure Punjabi. He was a gem of an artist, actor and a humane teacher all rolled into a rolly Polly personality.

Unlike some other teachers he did not have to use physical therapy in handling the wayward amongst us and thus left only positive impressions on our gentle minds instead of physical evidence on our bodies. 

Col Jatinder Randhawa (J-60,1968)

Col JS Randhawa  and below in the center dancing at an ONA party in 2008 in Chandigarh.

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Unreserved Approval

Mr Katyal was an unusually engaging teacher. His cheerful personality and the gentle simplicity with which he explained biology to the uninitiated, made his classes a treat to attend.

In addition, I was exceptionally lucky to have had him as my teacher, even beyond the classroom. He spotted and encouraged my interest in dramatics from early on. Were it not for his mentoring I may not have had the opportunity for a lead role in the annual school plays for most of my years at PPS, with him as Director. It was during the rehearsals of these plays, under his watchful eyes, that I realised the perfectionist in him. His attention to detail was painfully uncompromising, but forever enriching. It inspired me to work my hardest, if only to  please him. He was not so generous with his compliments. That he left to the audience on the final day. After repeated takes during rehearsals when we got it right the most one could hope for was his “OK”, with a smile.

One incident remains etched in my memory. It was when rehearsing for a play that he wanted me to limit my distracting hand movements and instead keep focus of the audience, more on the substance, the tone, and the words of a crucial dialogue. I tried hard to satisfy him for two days, but in vain. Finally, with concealed frustration, he tied both my hands behind my back, and we did a few more retakes. It worked. Even I was surprised to see the improvements in my dialogue delivery, and relieved to finally receive his customary ‘OK’, with a smile.

After leaving school in 1968, I met Mr Katyal in 2001 when on holiday in Mussoorie. He was working as principal of a public school there at the time. We reminisced about old times. I was so taken aback when out of the blue he showered unsolicited praise on me as his star actor over all those years. It was as if he was unloading the burden of a long overdue and unfinished business. I could not hold back my tears as they flowed unashamedly. It was as if I was finally letting go of a long held secret hunger for having his unreserved approval.

As fate would have it, it was to be our last meeting.

Dr Ved Beniwal (R-60,1968)

Dr Ved Parkash Beniwal (R-60,1968) on extreme right as a doctor in a play “Paanch pound Kum” in School directed by Mr. Katyal.

Present day doctor. He became president of Haryana Medical Association.

Dr Ved Beniwal with his cycling group giving interview to a TV channel.

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MEMORIES OF MR K. K KATYAL

Thinking about school times! Wow! is like revisiting yesterday, especially the memories of Mr. K. K. Katyal. These memories are fresh and joyous, reminding me that every moment was a lesson, which proved true in the years to come. Our teachers, seniors, and House Masters imparted wisdom akin to the teachings of the Gita. Our school felt like a nurturing family, guiding us toward our future careers, urging us to reach for the sky as our school motto, “ONWARD AND UPWARD” , suggests.

I can still vividly recall the moments when I entered the Biology Lab for a class with Mr. Katyal. At first glance, he seemed intimidating, but beneath that exterior was a visionary. He instilled in us the confidence to handle a scalpel and grow a plant, watching it bloom. Biology, typically a challenging subject, became so accessible under Mr. Katyal’s guidance that it left an indelible mark, inspiring me to become a doctor. Today, 56 years after leaving school, with 40 years of professional experience, I still yearn to be in Mr. Katyal’s class. He was a divine gift in the form of an exceptional teacher, and his ability to explain biological concepts left an enduring impression.

I believe that just as God created the world, Mr. Katyal, as a teacher, nurtured doctors in his students, transforming us from raw potential into polished gems. I consider myself fortunate to be one of his students. He was a paragon of teaching, shaping our professional lives and careers through his knowledge, patience, and affectionate teaching style. He maintained a warm smile, coupled with an authoritative and assertive voice, instilling discipline in the classroom. This discipline provided a solid foundation that has led to our success and respect in society.

Mr. Katyal treated all students equally, fostering an environment of mutual respect and listening to diverse viewpoints. He aimed to create a familial atmosphere in the classroom, where warmth, accessibility, and caring were the norm. His high expectations applied to all students, regardless of their academic level. His love for learning and knowledge motivated us all. Mr. Katyal encouraged us to share our ideas, fostering teamwork, and instilling leadership qualities that continue to benefit us in our professional lives. His innovative teaching techniques, like ‘shifting gears,’ turned dull subjects into engaging ones. He actively sought constructive criticism and guided students in shaping their careers and professions.

Sir, we feel honoured, privileged and proud to have been your students. I am sure you too are proud of your students up there in heaven.

Dr Gobinder Singh Dhami

(R-78,1969)                                                                                                                                          

Dhami Eye Care Hospital & Institute, Ludhiana-141001. M: 9814033998 (Dr Dhami is leading eye surgeon of Ludhiana)

Gobinder Dhami receiving the prize from Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh in 1969 as Band Leader.

Dr Dhami today as leading Eye surgeon of Ludhiana. 

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Mr. KK Katyal –My Biology Teacher who initiated me into Medicine.

My first memory of Mr. KK Katyal goes back to 1969 when I was a student of Biology in Class X. In one of the classes, we were supposed to dissect a frog!! Mr. Katyal had got enough frogs and those were kept in a large tub outside the biology room. Being a total vegetarian who had perhaps not even held an egg, I was the last person who could have picked up a frog from the tub and dissected it. Somehow, Mr. Katyal coaxed me to do it and I don’t know from where I got the energy and willpower- I caught hold of a frog between my fingers and, as demonstrated by Mr. Katyal hit the frog’s head hard against the edge of the tub. With the frog becoming unconscious, I started my dissection which was my first such experience. That day the foundation stone of my future career in Medicine was laid in the Biology Lab of the school, courtesy Mr. Katyal!

My next serious interaction with Mr. Katyal was in the beginning on 1970 soon after we returned from Delhi after participating in the Republic Day Parade. Mr. Katyal asked me to play the role of Gobar in the first full-length play “Godaan” that was to be staged on the Founders’ Day in March 1970. I couldn’t have ever said no to him and a series of endless rehearsals followed, many of those went well into the nights. We spent a lot of time at his house for those rehearsals during which he seemed to be totally engrossed in the play to the extent that he was ignoring his family life. On the day of the dress rehearsal, Mr. Katyal and Mr. OPB gave me a special haircut and glued my hair at various places to make me look a rustic villager. During the final dress rehearsal, I became very emotional and couldn’t hold back my tears in the scene where I was leaving the village along with my wife in the play. Many in the audience were crying for quite some time. After the play was over, Mr. Katyal gave me a big hug with tears still in his eyes!!

It was in 1982-83 that I met Mr. Katyal once again at AIIMS, New Delhi where he came for his treatment from Mussoorie. I had just joined the AIIMS for my DM in Neurology. He had multiple enlarged lymph nodes for which no particular cause could be found initially. After repeated visits to AIIMS and numerous tests carried out on him over the next year or so, he was ultimately diagnosed with a type of Lymphoma. He underwent multiple chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions at the AIIMS for over the next 2 years. During this period, he would religiously visit Delhi from Mussoorie. Every time, he would visit our house on Panchkuian Road first, mostly have dinner with us and then go to other side of Connaught Place where Mini (Archana) lived after her marriage. Mini always pointed this out to me with a sisterly jealousy whenever we met socially in Delhi!! As a Doctor, I could have never done more for a teacher who was responsible for initiating me into medicine.

I got to know Mr. Katyal more closely when Menka and I went with our two children to spend a few days with Mrs. and Mr. Katyal in Mussoorie where he was the Headmaster of the Mussoorie Public School. We were treated like family members and stayed in their house (and not the guest house of the school). He had totally recovered from his Lymphoma but used to get breathless on walking up and down in the school campus, located just next to the ropeway in Mussoorie.

For whatever I am today, I owe a lot to Mr. Katyal. Had he not persuaded to me to knock-out and dissect that frog, I may not have been a Doctor.  From this seemingly very insignificant incidence, I feel that I learnt to organize myself to accumulate all power within me and coordinate that power in a manner that I will be able to achieve anything that I aimed for. Thank you, Mr. Katyal for helping me in the organization of “power within” which I believe was the most important stepping stone for my successful journey as a student aiming to be a Doctor!!

Satish Jain, MD; DM; FRCP (R-107, 1970)

Dr Satish Jain today on the right. A neurologist,  formerly professor at AIIMS , with his son and grandson on a walk in the morning.

Satish Jain in the play Godaan while at School

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The pinches 

Mr. Katyal taught us Biology and can still feel his ear pinches every time we slipped up on some simple questions. 

Anil Chadda, R-224 (1967-1974)

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Thank you, Mr. Katyal 

Being married to one of Mr. Katyal’s daughters has its own benefits and drawbacks. On the plus side, we can count on a near instant connection with almost everyone during any meeting involving the old Nabhaites, once people find out that my wife, Archana, is Mr. Katyal’s daughter.

“Oh, you are Minnie, I remember you from the time you were so small. Oh, you still look the same. Oh, Mr. Katyal, what a fine house master. He made my life,” and so on.

On the downside, I usually become near invisible during such exchanges, especially if very senior batches are involved. Sometimes I am noticed, only to be told how lucky I am (which is quite true).

As an Old Nabhaite myself, I can completely relate to such outpourings because as I grow old, I realize how much we Nabhaites owe to those who gave their so much to so many.

Consider for example, the world today, when nine to five is a standard workday and ‘protected personal time’ a necessity. Compare it to the job of an average PPS housemaster. From rouser bell to lights out, we, the students occupied their entire time. How we dressed, what we ate, how well we did in class, what happened on the games field, who got sick during prep, everything and anything was the house master’s responsibility.

And yet, they somehow did it all and cheerfully so.

In time they became so much a part of our own trials and tribulations that we carry a bit of them, even today. These include memories of their scolding and punishments, the way we carry memories of such from our parents. People still remember and joke about Mr. Bhatti’s slap or Mr. Mathoo’s kick. With Mr. KK Katyal, it was his famously feared pinch and I have my own story to tell because though I was one of the fortunate ones to have escaped being pinched altogether, the fear of it still shapes my life.

Mr. Katyal taught us biology in eighth class and was a remarkable storyteller and teacher, so biology became one of my favorite subjects. His way of teaching was to ask questions and let the boys raise their hands and answer. Sometimes, when people could not give the right answer, he would threaten to pinch them. I sat next to Harjeet Singh Aulakh (S-297,1978) who was a fairly hardworking and intelligent boy.

One day, Harjeet was distracted and gave a wrong answer to one of Mr. Katyal’s questions . Sir let it go, but after a while, he asked him another question. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Harjeet’s day and he got it wrong again.

Mr. Katyal came close to our desk and asked him, “What’s wrong with you Harjeet ? I did not expect you to get two questions wrong in a row.” Then he pretended to glare at him and said, “If you miss one more, I am going to pinch you.”

“Sorry, Sir,” Harjeet began, “I will do better next time. But Sir, you are being unfair. You threaten to pinch me after I missed two questions in a row, yet there are these other kids who have missed several questions, and you don’t threaten them.”

To me, Harjeet had a point.

So, I too looked at Sir and nodded in agreement with my buddy. Mr. Katyal looked back at both of us and smiled. Then he said something I have never forgotten all these years.

“Harjeet, it is all about your potential. If I treated you like the rest, you will get lazy and not be able to perform to your full potential. As your teacher it is my duty to push you until you not only get there but exceed it.” Then he paused, and looked at me. “And you, if you miss one question, I will come after you too!”

I realised later that it was an underhanded compliment to both of us as much as it was a threat, but also a valuable life lesson—all rolled in one. That year both Harjeet and I did very well in class. Mr. Katyal told us at the end of the year that we were his star students. Thanks in a large part to his teaching technique, biology became my first love from then onwards. I ended up at the top of my Class in ISC.

His life lesson however, went on to shape our lives even beyond.

The fear of not being able to live up to my full potential carried me through medical school and residency training, fellowship program and on to a directorship of a cardiovascular institute. Sometimes, even now, I find myself asking my wife if I am living up to Mr. Katyal’s standard.

And about Harjeet. He exceeded his potential and our country’s expectations a long time ago. After joining the NDA, Harjeet graduated with distinction and later on went on to lay down his life defending our country atop the Saichen glacier. I salute my friend. I am sure Mr. Katyal must be so proud.

Thank you sir.

Dr Rupinder Brar (S-291,1978), Author and Director, Cardiology in a Yuba City Hospital, California., USA

From left Dr Yashbir Dewan (J-297,1976 also student of Mr. Katyal, neurosurgeon and Vice Chancellor of Guru Ram Rai Medical University In Dehradun), Dr Rupinder Brar, Mr Nigam (physics), Dr Rupinder Boparai (B-325,1976 ICSE, MS from PGI, General Surgeon in UK also a student of MR. KK Katyal) and Arvinder Sandhu Forensic expert (Canada).

In Punjabi University VC’s (Dr Arvind Singh) office before the expert panel discussion of their jointly authored book ‘Along came a Soldier’ on Banda Bahadur. On right is Dr Rupinder Brar Ss-291,1978) and Lt. Gen RS Sujlana (B-134,1967) in Jan 2023.

Interacting with students of The Punjab Public School, Nabha

Talking to students of The PPS in auditorium. The Headmaster UC Sharma standing by. (Jan 2023)

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 An article by Brig Advitya Mohan Madan (R-374,1982)  in the “Hindustan Times”, Chandigarh of 4th September, 2022.

Advitya Madan during School days

Another article by Him on Mr.KK Katyal (on 5th October, 2023)

An Unforgettable Teacher

It was January 1977 when our winter vacation had just ended. I, a young child, along with my father, entered the ‘Ravi House’ of the senior school of Punjab Public School, Nabha with trepidation. While in ‘Junior school’ and the ‘Middle House’, we heard a lot about pillow fighting competitions and ragging by the seniors in the dormitories of the senior school. After helping me settle down in my allotted dormitory my father left for our home. It was the first time when I felt all alone to fend for myself in this harsh and ruthless world.

On the very first day, I realized that in senior school no one calls each other by their name. Everyone including all the teachers and the Housemasters was assigned their nicknames with affection. On the very first night, we witnessed a high drama when our seniors of Class 12 in Dormitory No 1 violated the basic rule of ‘lights off’ at 2230 hours. At around 2245 hours, we all juniors of Class 8th on the first floor heard a lot of commotion downstairs.   We all peeped down from our windows and what a sight to behold. We could not believe our eyes. All our seniors were undergoing mass punishment on the lawn below under the tutelage of our Housemaster Mr. KK Katyal. Later, we came to know that Mr. KK Katyal was a no-nonsense man. He was a hard taskmaster with a tough exterior but with a soft heart. He was the only housemaster who never skipped having meals with the Ravi house students.

Professionally, no one could even match him. He had authored a Biology book which was prescribed by the ICSE board in all the schools across the length and breadth of our country. It was only because of him that several students opted for Biology as the optional subject and now are renowned Doctors and super-specialists. I fondly remember, before our first day of the ICSE exams, how his wife organized a small prayer at their residence and distributed prasad with a bowl of curd as a good omen.

Mr Katyal also taught us the use of a knife and fork and used to guide us on how to soak extra ghee from our food by dunking a piece of bread in the gravy.

No one ever bunked his periods as all of us believed that if one is attentive during his classes one need not study for the exams. I clearly remember when he used to jokingly remark in class, ‘ So Advitya, you are interested in ‘Not Doing Anything’ (An acronym he coined who were hell-bent on joining NDA).

In his later years, he took the Mussoorie Public School to great heights in the capacity of Principal before he got back to his roots at Hoshiarpur. It is very rare these days to find teachers of his calibre. May his soul rest in peace always. Today is World Teachers’ Day -5 October and we pay our tributes to him. May such a breed of teachers continue enlightening the lives of the younger generation.

Brig Advitya Madan before retirement

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ISC class of 1972. Mr KK Katyal is seated fourth from left,  Headmaster was Mr AR Gupta seated in the center.

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The Katyal Family perspective

(Written by Vandana Katyal on behalf of the Family)

Young Vandana Katyal with her father.

Mr. Krishan Kumar Katyal  (Nov. 9, 1938-May 25, 2002), was always, and will always be our hero . Not because he was our dad , but because he was an  educator. As a father and a teacher, he was kind, patient, wise and knowledgeable. From him, we learned the valuable lessons of life, as well as academic lessons which added immense values to our life.

Looking back in life, he got married in Oct. 1961 after finishing his studies and went on to teach at  DAV college, Jalandhar where they were blessed with their first daughter. He taught there for about three years . In May 1964, he joined the academic staff at The PPS, Nabha (May 1964- Feb. 1981) as a Biology teacher.  He was blessed with his second daughter the same year in August and a son in July 1967.  He was a great family man and took great pride in his Lambertta scooter with an additional carrier and it would accommodate all of our family.

Archana and Vandana Katyal in school after a taking part in variety entrainment (in stage dress).

Years later… The two sisters in Jan 2023, outside the same auditorium, where once they had participated in stage performances during school days.

He had a great green thumb and was very fond of gardening. Our backyard was always flourishing with fresh produce for us as well as for the neighbours. He spent a lot of time in keeping up with the seasonal flowers for the front of the house so it always looked appealing.

Our sweetest and best memories are of the PPS campus, where we would live not as a family, but as an extended family with other staff and faculty.

Staff daughters and colleagues Vandana, Alka Sharma (d/o Mr. RK Sharma) and Pushpa Jyotsinghani (d/o Mr. Jyotsinghani).

Children of  Extended Staff Family

When our parents went to attend school staff meetings/dinners/get togethers, all of the kids were put in one house to play. The friendships, relationships and bonds formed during those years continue to warm our heart even to this day. The sprawling school campus offered us a place to thrive and explore, form values and principles in life, and establish a solid foundation of character and moral values.

A staff dinner. Mr. Kate, Mr. Nigam and Mela Singh in fore front. Between them above in the centre can be seen Mr. Katyal. Some other staff members are also visible.

 When our father went to the UK for a year in 1970 for his higher education enhancement, our extended PPS family was always there to assist us and look after us. In 1974, he was appointed the House Master of Ravi house.

Our father also had a great passion for theatre and every year was involved in directing one or two school plays.  He was a great lover of nature and accompanied students for a nature trekking trip for a few days every year in summer. Not to forget that he was a big foodie as well and loved cooking for the family. We can go on and on about how he loved to live his life to the fullest with a great sense of humour and had a great will power and determination to provide the best of the best that he could offer to everybody.

His students found him to be a great teacher. They have lot of regard and respect for him. He authored a Biology text book and a workbook and subsequently served as the Head Examiner of Biology for the ICSE board for many years.

Starting 1980, he started facing health problems and In 1981, our family made academic transitions – our father assumed the responsibilities of Principal of Mussoorie Public School in Mussoorie while our mother oversaw the day to day running of the boarding and dorm operations of the school along with teaching. During this time, numerous old Nabhaites visited my father in Mussoorie and revived cherished  and fond memories of years gone by.

Mr. and Mrs Katyal at Mussoorie

Our parents travelled to US in 1994 to spend some time with us and especially the grandchildren that they adored and doted on. They served in their respective positions until 2000, following which they took retirement and moved to our father’s roots – to his hometown of Hoshiarpur. After battling his illness for several years, our father passed away in 2002. Our mother moved to the US to live with us in the US and got her Green card in 2003. Unfortunately, she also passed away in 2004 during a visit to India.

We also had to bear the tragic loss of our brother in 2013. He had joined Merchant Navy.

Son Puneet Katyal (R-425,1981) passed away in 2013

Our father had a lot of empathy and compassion for the underprivileged and we saw him practice what he preached. To honour our father’s memory, we established an ongoing yearly recognition award for a deserving karamchari or support staff in 2002, on basis of his/her excellent service. This award money is now being used for Muskaan and Prayaas club to benefit the wards of support staff/ karamchari employees.

Archana (R-307,1977),with her husband also an Old Nabhaite, Dr Rupinder Brar (S-291,1978) a doctor and an author.

Vandana  (R-344,1978), with her husband Ashwani Vij (PhD)

Vandana who owns four US patents in her name, retired as Senior Research Scientist from Edwards Air Force base, California. She says, “Papa would have been extremely proud of these achievements and being an old Nabhaite, the basic training did start from Science Block , The PPS”.

Every year, on September 5, is observed globally as World Teachers’ Day, we reflect upon the contributions of our father’s unconditional love and dedication to not only their children but every life they touched as educators. Though he may not be with us today, he received the love, respect and regards from a global family of The PPS Old Nabhaites who are making their mark in every career path that they have pursued. As they say – Teachers make all other professions possible, we are so proud of him to be able to do for so many.

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THE FIRST GIRL STUDENTS (1960s)

PPS started off as an all-boys School since its primary aim was to prepare children for defence forces. However, some girls were enrolled in the school during the early years on account of them being children of teaching staff. 

In 1970s with day scholar girls gaining strength (introduced in 1967 second term)  a Head Girl of School was also appointed.

Archana (R-307) was appointed Headgirl in 1977 and

Vandana (R-344) was appointed Headgirl in 1978.

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Tall In Deeds; Tall Indeed!

The great Geography Teacher who was not only physically the tallest but also tall in his deeds to the benefit of the School and the students of The Punjab Public School, Nabha

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MUKUT NARAIN TANKHA

Though Mr Cowell had promised to join PPS, the credit for officially reporting first on duty goes to Mr. Mukut Narain Tankha who had started his career as a Geography teacher at Modern School, New Delhi. Though the exact dates are unknown, both Mr Cowell and Mr Tankha joined PPS in the month of March, 1960. It was the trio or triumvirate of Mr Kate, Mr Cowell and Mr Tankha that prepared the blueprint for functioning of the school.

Mr Cowell, being an academician, planned the curriculum and timetable. Mr Tankha, on the other hand was a versatile genius. A passionate and lively geography teacher, a trained mountaineer, a good artist, photographer, and an excellent all-round sportsman ( Allahabad University basketball and Athlete) , athletics coach who could play the harmonium and sing, he played a vital role in the early years. He would mark the fields meticulously and later on organize the athletic meets almost single-handedly. His six feet four-inch frame and good looks endeared him to the students and everybody in the school looked up to him, quite literally.

A Collector’s item. This photograph is of April, 1960. It shows the few boys who had got admission then with board members at the back Col Naunihal Singh Mann,  Chowdhary Raghuvender Singh, Gen Kalwant Singh and Brig. Kirpal Singh’s face in between, Mr. Kate , Mrs Kalwant Singh. On the left at back can be seen indomitable figure of Mr. MN Tankha. Mrs Kate’s forehead can be seen in front of Mr. Kate.

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The Pillars of School, Staff in 1963: Mr. M N Tankha sitting second from right, Mr JK Kate , the headmaster in center and Mr. SC Cowell on right of Mr. Cowell formed the triumvirate who started the school from scratch beginning in March, 1960.

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FROM THE SCHOOL CHRONICLE

(Below are some excerpts from the chronicle which throw light on the multifarious roles played by Mr. Tankha in The Punjab Public School, Nabha.)

4th September, Sunday, 1960

The first Music Circle meeting took place. Mr. Joginder Singh (English) was master of ceremonies.  Mr. S.R. Chatterjee music teacher played the ‘Alap’, Zhor and Thala in the rag ‘Desh’

Songs were sung in English, Hindi and Punjabi by boys and staff. Pahari song by Jagjit Soharu (B-30). Ghulam Rasool(J-42) sang a Kashmiri song. Kamaljit Chauhan (R-11) sang a Hindi song liked by everyone. Indira Surjit Singh (S-33) first girl in school, sang a Punjabi song. Perhaps the most popular item of the evening was Mr. Tankha’s song ‘Thumbelina’. Much of the facial expression was lost to audience by fading light.

26th September, 1960

We were all happy to see General Kalwant Singh when he paid us a surprise visit. After surveying the over-all conditions under which the School was operating, he went around the classrooms while teaching was in progress and later lunched with the boys, talking to several of them during his visit, the General gave evidence of a truly phenomenal memory for names and faces and family details. Prior to his departure there was a delightfully, informal tea with the Staff, followed by taking some equally informal (and, we hope, delightful) photographs by Mr. Tankha. We welcome this opportunity of thanking the General for his very real and continued interest in us and of expressing the hope that we shall be seeing him again.

Saturday, 22nd Oct

Twenty Boys under Mr Tankha and Mr Kumar went to witness the Quadrangular athletic Meet at YPS, Patiala. The teams were from BCS, Shimla, The Lawrence School Sanawar, Doon school and YPS. (At that time our school was not part of the IPSC).

Sunday, October 23rd

Mr N Tankha came up with the idea of initiating a “Brains Trust” to widen the knowledge base of the students. In the first ever meeting of Brains Trust held , the panel consisted of Mr Tankha, Dr Ishwar Swarup (the school doctor), Dr Surjit Singh, Mr Joginder Singh, Mr G S Punia and Mr S C Vishnoi. The Headmaster, Mr J K Kate chaired the meeting.

Mr MN Tankha also took the lead to start a Geographical Society and Mr YP Bhardwaj, never one to be left behind, launched the History Society.

27th November

Mr Tankha was married in Lucknow to Asha Tikku. We extend our hearty congratulation and warmest good wishes for a long and happy married life.

19th November

Inaugural meeting of the Geographical Society was organized by Mr Tankha. Mrs Finlay presided.

10th December

A garden party was held in the grounds of Guest House in honour of newlywed Mr. and Mrs Tankha. The whole school, Lt Gen Kalwant Singh  and Brigadier Rajinder Singh were present. The Armoured Corps band was in attendance. The music added to the enjoyment. The couple was given a wedding present.

26th January, 1961

 Republic Day was observed in front of the school with flag hoisting by Bhupinder (B-20). Probably the first of the School (as it had started in April the year before).

First of the new boys arrived. Others followed on 28th and 30th. News came that Mrs Grant would not be returning. Miss Rowe moved to Guest House and Mrs MacMillan returned to the Secretariat (now Kairon Block) to resume her duties as nursing sister. Mrs. Tankha took charge of Senior boys ‘clothing’.

First summer trek from PPS

 Mr. Tankha, Mr. Bhatnagar and Mr. Sarabjit set out to visit Rohtang Pass with a group of sixteen students during the summer vacation of 1961. The party also included two more students from the Lawrence School, Sanawar. The school’s first trip to Rohtang Pass turned out to be a truly memorable one since the group had the privilege to meet Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India at Manali. Always a favourite with children, Chacha Nehru had the students eating out of his hands in no time. He evinced a keen interest in PPS Nabha and Mr. Tankha presented him a prospectus of the School. A memorable photograph was taken that was later signed by the great man himself during his Nabha visit in the following year. It was a prize possession of Rajkumar Hukku (R-43) of Ravi House.

The group of sixteen that set out for Rohtang Pass in summer of 1961. The first trek oragnised and planned in school  was  by Mr. MN Taknha

Encounter with the Prime Minister of India , Pandit Jawahar lal Nehru at Manali

Below the Prime Minister signing autograph for Rajkumar Hukku (R-43) on his right with cap.

17th  April, 1962

Class IX left with Mr Tankha and Mr Bhandari for Dehra Dun. Each party had two or more helpers, liberal supply of skimmed milk powder, gifted from HMF and Horlicks. Our gratitude to Mr. Copas of Horlicks.

9th September, 1962

Mr.MN Tankha also became the first teacher from PPS to go to England on a bursary awarded by British Council to study special methods of teaching Geography. Mr Tankha was bid good-bye on behalf of School and Mr. Mathu the new teacher for Geography joined in his place.

29th September

Mr MN Tankha who used audiovisual techniques in those days put up an interesting presentation and slideshow on his trip to the Kolahai Glacier that he had undertaken during the summer vacations with Mr. YP Bhardwaj, Mr. OP Bhatnagar and seventeen boys from the school. Ever a passionate adventurer, he would organize these trips at regular intervals and more often than not, Mr. OP Bhatnagar would be his companion of choice. Mr. Bhatnagar would carry along his canvas and painting kit and would invariably return with some breathtaking landscapes and portraits.

28th February,1963

Mr. Tankha wrote from England and made a special mention of his Eton visit organized by the British Council. He was deeply impressed with its unique House system where the Houses were named after housemasters and the names of the houses changed whenever a new housemaster took over.

18th August, 1963

By the time Mr. MN Tankha came back from England, Mr. YP Johri had already set sail after being awarded with a Commonwealth Bursary for further studies in England. He joined the prestigious Hull University for studying newer methods in the teaching of Mathematics. Mr. Tankha has returned with new ideas and his experience with Eton is given in this issue. We welcome him back.

16th December

Mr. Tankha gave a talk and showed slides of his tour of Britain and Europe.

January , 1964

Mrs. Tankha has taken charge of the Mess in Senior School. Can look forward to delicious meals.

In 1964 , at the foundation laying ceremony of the Swimming Pool. Mr. Tankha with his son Monty and Mr. Tandon next to him consuming laddoos at the happy occasion.

9th  November, 1965

Geography Society met. Ranjit Pal was elected President and Jagdeep was Secretary. Some students read papers on Cotton, Iceland and Japan. Mr. Edwards spoke on the Great lakes. Mr. Bhatnagar on glaciers illustrated with film strips. Mr. Tankha showed slides from his visit to Switzerland. On a subsequent meeting on 18th films on ‘The English Village’ and ‘Day and Night’ were screened.

In 1966 second term

Mr. Tankha will be the games master in place of Mr. Bhardwaj who left last term.

26th April to 1st May, 1968

Terminal examinations. Class XI exams held earlier to enable some to attend NDA interviews.

Mr. Tankha won an East-West scholarship for one year study at University of Hawaii, USA. He will leave in August.

In August ,1968

Mr. M.N.Tankha proceeded on a year’s leave to study at the East-West Centre, University of Hawaii, U.S.A. He was awarded a scholarship by the U.S. Education Foundation and it was his second trip abroad, the previous one being in 1962.

May, 1969

Mr. Tankha has extended his stay in US till next January so that he can complete his M.Ed. He will be doing part of the course in Washington, DC. He also spent some few days with Mr. David Goldberg an ex-Peace corps teacher who had taught in the PPS.

August, 1969

As soon as Mr. Tankha returned from U.S.A after completing his M.Ed. degree from the East West Centre, he resumed his duties as the Housemaster of Ravi House.

Wednesday Forum  end of January,1970

Mr. Tankha gave a talk with beautiful slides on his memorable trip to Hawaii.

DEAS was introduced in school in 1970. Adventure activities had always been a regular part of the school calendar ever since the School began. Mr. Tankha had set the ball rolling with his back-to-back trips to the mountains during the first two years. The annual tours and excursions generally constituted treks and not luxury tours.

July 1970

June during vacations

Mr. M.N.Tankha also decided to accept the post of Vice-Principal at the Birla Public School Pilani. It was a sad day for everyone since Mr. Tankha was one of the first teachers to join PPS.

Close on the heels of Mr. Tankha, Mr. O. P. Bhatnagar also left for Mayo College Ajmer. Mr. Bhatnagar, the former housemaster of Jumna.

He shared the passion for hiking and outdoors with Tankha and both of them had gone for many adventures together, and it was rather ironical that both of them would leave around same time.

Mr. OP Bhatnagar (Hindi) and Mr. M.N. Tankha (Geography). Exact location is lawn of Kothi Rest house below the Rohtang pass. On the left is Patalsu Peak. The snow-covered mountain is the Dushair Lake area and is the left flank of Rohtang pass. Which not visible and is on the right. The forest on the right is called Gulaba.  Comment by Tilak Raj Arora (J-152, 1973 and ex-Teacher ,The PPS, Mountaineering)

OP Bhatnagar (comment): the boy in the background is Ravinder Sra (R-5), nickname is बूढी. He got that nickname after he acted as an old lady in the first Ravi House Show in the end of May 1960. Ravi House was the first house in PPS. I gave the second one, the Sutlej House show.    I don’t know where is this nice boy now. I remember so many things of PPS of 70s. I cherish those memories . I have forgotten most of the happenings of other schools where I worked.

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Eleven Years Later

26 Jan ,1981  (Feb 1981 issue of Chronicle , P-2)

Mr. M.N.Tankha, (Ex Staff member) Principal, Assam Rifles School, Shillong was the special guest on the Republic Day in 1981.  In his address, he recalled his memorable days in the School during 1960s. He was presented with Guard of Honour and N.C.C. March Past.)

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Mr JK Kate’s comments on departure of Mr. MN Tankha in the Chronicle issue of September, 1970, P-5.

 Below is retyped version of above article:

M.N.T.

Mr. Tankha was one of those staff members who joined us when the school was about to start in April 1960, Before coming here he had worked in the Modern School for short time.

In a new institution, everybody is expected to put in hard work and I must say that Mr. Tankha did not lag behind. He cooperated fully in discharging various duties assigned to him. If I remember correctly, we were only six staff members when the school opened on the 14th of April 1960. Dr. Surjit Singh was appointed Senior Master, but could not join because of the serious  accident with which he and his family had met. Because of the limited ‘financial resources’ the Bursar’s post was not filled till as late as February, 1961. Therefore, all of us had to work very hard and share responsibilities which ordinarily are shouldered by the Senior Master and Bursar. Mr Tankha was one of those persons who carried out whatever duties were assigned to him.

Being young, cheerful and sweet-tempered , he was liked both by the boys and staff. He took a lot of interest in developing the Geography Department. In fact in the early days of the school our Geography Department was our only show-piece as the staff for other departments like Chemistry, Physics, Biology had not been appointed then. It was not only that he equipped the Geography Room well, but every year on the Founders’ Day he put up good exhibitions of Geography charts, maps, models, etc. also.

After Mr. Joginder Singh (English) left us to join Dagshai Public School as its Principal, Mr. Tankha was made in charge of games. Our Inter House Athletics Meet which bas become an important event in the life of the school owes a great deal to the organising ability of Mr. Tankha.

As he had completed the mountaineering course at Darjeeling in 1961, he took initiative in organising our first trekking party of boys who were hardly 13 years old to Rohtang Pass. This, trek which was also filmed by him, was a grand success and Mr, Nehru who was holidaying in Kulu in those days was pleased to meet our young boys trekking in that valley.

Trek  to Rohtang pass in 1961 , the first ever trek from The PPS  with Mr. OP Bhatnagar on the left and tallest person at the back Mr. MN Tankha. Mr Bhatnagar accompanied Mr. Tankha on all his treks.

Encounter with the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru at Manali.

During his stay in the school he went abroad twice, first to U.K. on Commonwealth Bursary  in 1962 and then to Hawaii Islands on East–West Centre Scholarship in 1968.

Mr. Tankha has an aesthetic sense and this could be seen in his classroom, in his House, in fact in all departments which he looked after, in the school. He always thought of some new ideas but as they meant a lot of financial burden on the school, I had to curb his enthusiasm, but he always took it nicely.

Ten years is not much time jn the life of an institution but for an individual who works for the first ten years of a new institution, this period is quite eventful.

We wish Mr. and Mrs. Tankha and their two sweet children a happy and prosperous life at Pilani.

J.K. Kate (Headmaster)

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Importance of being Mr. Tankha

  He was junior in protocol to Dr Surjit Singh, First Senior Master (now designation changed to deputy HM) , Mr. GS Punia the Bursar. Mr. SC Cowell, in charge of discipline and English teacher, Mr. Michael Vodden, Head of English (from British Council) and Ms GB Malkani Head of Junior Wing (school).  Mr Tankha would often be asked to accompany Mr JK Kate in escorting VIP guests. In this picture he is just behind Defence Minister YB Chavan  (1964 Founders’ Day) when he visited the School. the others are seen standing as per protocol to be introduced to the guest.

Mr Tankha with Mr JK Kate accompanying the President of India Dr. Rajendra Parsad and his wife to the exhibition,  when he came to inaugurate the School in 1961.

A personal discussion on the side between Mr. JK Kate and the Tall Mr. Tankha during a  tea break at the ‘Inauguration of the School’ , in 1961. Staff members Mr. Tandon (music) and Mr. MS Bhatnagar ( Biology) seen in the background on the left.The year 1962-3 Founders Day: due to rain the ceremony was shifted into the assembly Hall (now Library). One can see Mr Tankha busy with material behind the chief guest. The back up man. Others in the picture are Ms J Lamba , Ms Malkani, GS Punia, Mr OP Bhatnagar with specs next to Mr Tankha. In front are Mr. JK Kate, Brig Kirpal Singh partly seen, Chief Guest and Col Naunihal Singh.

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The Tall personality

Governor Dharamveer 1967Matching heights with Gen JN Chowdhary COAS , Indian Army and Lt. Gen Harbaksh Singh , GOC in C , Western Commnand. Year 1966.

Governor DC Pavate the year 1968

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An Article on the famous English Public School of Eton By Mr. Tankha on his visit to UK and the School.

ETON, HERE I COME !

“Where is the name,” I asked the Master who was showing me round Eton College. “which got the boy, who carved it, expel­led ?” The story which I had heard from Mr. Kate. was repeated all over again.

The Lower School, the oldest and once the only schoolroom, is still in regu­lar use, retaining the same appearance as one would have seen about five centuries ago. It was meant for seventy students who sat in three groups, facing in different directions and receiving instruction simultaneously from three different masters. How was it done ? The answer was probably best known to those who taught or studied .

Although carving names on desks or panels is subject to severe punishment, boys not only did it in the past, but still do it and will probably continue to do it in the future, But the most interesting part of the tradition is when the boy leaves the school the school authorities try to preserve his carving. Visitors are shown—. may I say— with pride the names of some of the old boys who broke the rule and later became famous persons.

A view of Eton College, Eton, Berkshire, June 1962. (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)

The boys of the past had to lead comparatively much harder lives, as  I was told, than the school boys of today. All boys slept in long chambers, three in each of the huge wooden beds. They were awakened at five in the morning by one of the prefects, then known as “Praeposters”. shouting : “Surgite”— a Latin word meaning “Rise Up.” While dressing those boys chanted prayers and then made their beds and swept up the dust. The cleaning of the floor was supervised by a senior boy who sat on a blanket and was pulled to and fro by junior boys. This cleaning water , even in winter, was provided. Anyhow. at six o’clock they all had to be present in the schoolroom, the one which I mentioned above, until nine o’clock, when there was an interval for breakfast. At ten there was assembly, followed at eleven by dinner[the mid-day meal is often called dinner in England] in the Hall. Strict discipline was maintained, and the boys had to walk there two by two. This reminds me of our boys marching into the dining hall under the strict vigilance of Mr. Cowell.

However, at midday lessons were resumed and lasted without any break until three in the afternoon when the boys were allowed to go and play. Games were played under the supervision of Praeposters only for one hour as again they had to go for more lessons from four to six. After supper the boys did their so-called private study supervised by pre­fects from six to eight. It was only after eight that they were allowed to go to bed. Actually, the normal daily routine involved some nine hours’ work and, as I was given to understand, Latin was the only subject studied while other subjects were practically ignored. It was only after 1864 that subjects like Modern Languages, Maths and Science were introduced.

Furthermore, the school year was divided into two ‘halves ‘and not into three `halves’, as it is now. There were three weeks’ holidays between the two `halves’ when parents are allowed to take their sons home. You may be wondering why I have used the word ‘half’ in inverted commas: in fact, the word `half’ was used for a `term’ and even now is always used in Eton as a part of their traditions.

Speaking of traditions, Eton boys still continue to wear, in spite of many changes, the same old tail coat and narrow trousers with a bow tie. The ordinary boy wears a plain outfit with a turned-down collar and a mere strip of a white tie tucked inside. “Stick-ups”, an orthodox bow tie on a butterfly collar is allowed only for important games. Boys below the height of 5′ 4″ are considered too short for the tail coat and, therefore, wear cut-away jackets with a stiff “Eton Collar” and a black tie.

Four boys from Eton College, wearing various versions of the college uniform, stand and chat in the School Yard at the college in Eton near Windsor, Berkshire in June 1947. (Photo by James Jarche/Popperfoto via Getty Images)

For games and other informal occa­sions the boys wear what they call `change”- grey flannels or shorts, a tweed coat and a cap when not actually engaged in sports. For each game there is a dif­ferently coloured cap.

Another distinctive feature of Eton is the Black Gown which is worn only by collegers [boys who get a scholarship] in chapel, in school and on other formal occasions. With this one can straightaway tell who is a colleger and who is an oppidan [a name for boys who pay their own fees]. But the belief is that this black gown is worn in remembrance of the days when collegers were provided free clothing by the college, under the Founders’ statutes

The “Pops” members of the Eton Society, who act as arbiters of good be­haviour of other boys in public places, wear a slightly different uniform as a privilege. They wear, with the braided tail coat, brightly coloured waist­coats, check trousers, white bow tie and butterfly collar. As far as the story goes, the word “Pop” originated from the Latin word “popina”, meaning tuck-shop, where the founder members used to hold their society meetings.

There are at present as many as twenty-five houses with a strength of about fifty boys in each ranging in age from about thirteen to about eighteen. Each boy has a room to himself which is known as “study”. It is actually a bed­sitter, with a folding bed, a writing table and chair, an easy chair, a shelf for keeping books and a wardrobe for clothes. During the day when the bed is not used, to make more room, it is folded up against the wall. The House Master is in sole charge of the House, and he has complete freedom in choosing the boys he will accept in his House. The Houses are named after their respective House Master after the new House Mister. In the olden days the House Masters were called “Domincis” and the Matrons “Dames.”

There is no school prefect system, except that the Head Master appoints two school captains (one from the colle­gers and the other from the oppidans) whose duties are administrative rather than disciplinary. Actually, the House plays a more important role than the school in maintaining discipline. It is the captain of the House, assisted by some five senior boys, who form a team known as ‘Library” and keep a watch on the behaviour of all members of the House, not only in but beyond the House premises. Whenever any member of the “library” experiences some difficulty in maintaining discipline he approaches the House Master for guidance,

Although there are many games played Eton specializes only in three – Football, Cricket and Rowing. Typical of the school are the Field Game and Wall Game which are known as the “native” games of Eton, that is they are played nowhere in the world except at Eton. The origin of these games is probably connected with the weather conditions in England during the months they are played. In winter and early spring, when the ground is not fit for any other game, these games are the best substitutes.

ETON, UNITED KINGDOM – JUNE 4: Formally dressed Eton schoolboys during the annual Fourth of June Founder’s Day celebrations at Eton School near Windsor, England on 4th June, 1968. The celebrations take place on, or close to, the fourth of June in honour of the birthday of Eton’s greatest patron, King George III. (Photo by Mike Randolph/Paul Popper/Popperfoto via Getty Images)

Field Game is something of a mixture of Association and Rugby football, with Hockey goal posts. The ball is round in shape and may not be touched by hand. A goal may be shot as in Association foot­ball and counts three points, but another form of scoring called a “Range” is roughly the equivalent of a try at Rugby foot­ball counting two points. After the “Range” is scored an attempt is made to convert it into a goal by forcing the ball between the posts in a scrimmage. It is a sight to see this tussle to score, and it is known as the ‘Ram’

Wall Game is more or less the Field Game played up against a wall. Although, I could not see the game, the ball moves up along the wall, a number of muddy scrimmages are caused and sometimes the ball is not even visible throughout the movement to all the players, but they keep going with the tussle. It is usually played on some special occasions between the collegers and the oppidans

The Collegers team enter the field for the 87th Wall Game against the Oppidans on St Andrew’s Day at Eton College, 30th November 1927. (Photo by L. Blandford/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

During the Autumn and Spring terms (commonly known as Michaelmas and Lent “Halves”) a boy is free to play any game he chooses. But in the Summer ‘Half” a boy must choose between “Drybob” and “Wetbob”. A “Drybob” is a boy who plays mainly cricket whilst the “Wetbob” is a boy who directs his energies towards rowing.

Besides games, there are many hobbies which the boys pursue during their spare time, and these are organised by respective societies. There are as many as fifty such societies which maintain the interests of the boys in extra-curricular activities. What impre­ssed me most was the fact that these societies are run almost entirely by the students themselves. Masters act only as advisers. A recent addition to these societies is the Film Society which pro­duces movie films on a variety of sub­jects, both humorous and academic.

Perhaps it may interest the “Master on Duty” that there is no organised “prep.” Boys do their “prep” in the time suitable to themselves that is to say, a boy has to adjust his time so as to be able to fit in all his out-of-school work.

Although, it sounds as if masters are unconcerned with the boys’ work, the amount of individual help they give is much more effective than any orga­nised preparation. The Tutorial system probably is the substitute. Every boy has a classical tutor up to his `0″ Level exams equivalent to our High School, and thereafter he has as tutor a master who teaches the subject in which the boy is specialising for his “A” or “S” Level exams (equivalent to our Intermediate exams). In this system they feel every boy gets an opportunity for (article ended in the chronicle -incomplete sentence).

M.N. Tankha (on his study visit to UK )

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Mr. M N Tankha , a senior staff member of the legendary staff of the 1963. He is seated third from right. 

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When Mr. Tankha was leaving School in 1970 , he wrote about his more than ten years experience in ‘The Punjab Public School’, Nabha. In this he laid stress on how much he valued his stay at the School and the lessons he learnt while serving here. (Nov 1970 chronicle issue, P-4&5)

I  REMEMBER

I don’t think I could ever forget the day before the Ides of March in the year 1960. It was the day when I landed in Nabha to take up appointment as Geography Master. I also re­member this day for another thing. When I stepped out of the train at Nabha railway station I thought I had thirteen small packages with me but when I reached the Guest House—the place where I was temporarily lodged—I found that one package was missing. The railway porter had apparently forgotten to take it off the train. I always look at the bright side of things. Although the loss was not negligible I consoled myself with the thought that now I had twelve pieces of luggage instead of the original thirteen—for most this number is unlucky !

I soon settled down at the PPS and started my work without giving a second thought to the missing piece of luggage. I don’t really remem­ber now what it really contained. Ten years ago, the PPS was a small family and like a family that struggles to achieve success we put our whole heart and soul into the school work. Be­sides teaching and looking after the boarding houses teachers were called upon to do a number of odd jobs. We were all young and full of enthusiasm and were always ready to do what­ever was assigned to us. It was a pleasure to work in so many different capacities at the same time. Each one of us was thought to be a jack of all trades. I remember having worked at one time or the other as bursar, office superintendent, purchase officer, stationery in charge, and librarian, besides teaching geography, handling the 16 mm film projector, acting as advisor to the photo­graphy club, looking after games, taking boys on a mountain hike (I was the only trained mountaineer at that time in the school) and, last but not the least, playing the harmonium in the morning assembly.

All this work has certainly paid me divid­ends. It was then that I learned the value of work and it was at the PPS that I received training to be a real Public-School teacher. (This experience came in handy when he became Founder Headmaster of Assam Rifles Public, School, Shillong.)

I also remember the initial difficulties that the PPS staff and students had to face. Although we had a palatial building to house the school in we hadn’t made allowances for the weather. Rain Lis considered to be a good omen—people believe that this is the way Gods show their pleasure (Remember Campbell Johnson’s account of the first Independence Day Celebrations in New Delhi ?)—but for us in 1960 rain really played havoc. The senior school campus was inundated and we had to shift—lock, stock and barrel—to the Guest House. For a week we were in Guest House and the whole week we could hear people offering their unsolicited advice “Nabha is not the right place to start a boarding school in; Chandigarh would be the ideal place.” Some openly talked of the danger of the new secretariat sinking. But we said, “nothing doing”—there was no question of turning back.

When Sardar Partap Singh Kairon, the then Chief Minister of Panjab, decided to give up the chief ministership under the Kamaraj Plan, people thought that the PPS would not survive long for it was Sardar Sahib who had persuaded the Panjab Government to start this school in Nabha, he had all along been the source of ins­piration to us all. It is a strange fact but it really happened that neither inclement weather nor change in the Panjab Government could prove detrimental to the growth of the school. Our motto, ‘Onward and upward’ was some­thing that the school translated into reality. We have since then moved onwards and upwards.

The Kairon Block or the new Secretariat of Nabha State was inundated with water due to incessant rain in 1960, within few months of the school having started. It finds mention in his article as a huge hurdle which the school overcame with distinction in its year of inception. 

My long association with Ravi House is one more thing I want to talk about. Ravi House occupies a soft corner in my heart. Besides so many things that I miss today I would mention boys of Ravi House. I can’t forget those mo­ments when we used to prepare for the various inter-house competitions, especially for the House Evening.Mr. Tankha with his  Inter-House winning , Ravi House football team. Ravi won the Cock house that year in 1960s 

Before I started writing this article I had a mind to talk of all the fond memories I have of PPS, Nabha, but I don’t think I could claim all the space in the ‘Chronicle’. I would, therefore, say ‘Aloha’ right here. I think I’ll write again someday. (for those who may not be aware , Mr. Tankha had trained in Hawaii and in Hawaiian Aloha means love, affection, peace, compassion and mercy)

Mr. M.N. Tankha (written at the time of saying goodbye! to The PPS)

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Mr. M.N.Tankha

Being an IPSC member for 18 years, I have seen nearly all the Public Schools of 60’s, 70’s. I am proud to say that Mr. Tankha had created the best Geography Department I have ever seen. He made “World on a pitcher”, relief maps and charts. Models and several types of globes made the room very impressive. Mr. Tankha was a fine example of versatility. Player, athletics coach, singer, dancer, artist, mountaineer and what not! Annual Athletics used to be a grand show. His planning and recoding were meticulous. He was the first to join the PPS, after Mr. Kate.

Treks and Tours
(a) Mr. Tankha was a trained mountaineer. He organised a trekking expedition to Rohtang Pass, about 14,000 feet in Kulu Valley. He wanted a teacher to accompany him. Mr. Kate’s choice fell on me. It was in 1961 summer. MNT made detailed preparations. For me, it was a great opportunity. My main hobby has been painting. I was thrilled with the prospects of being in the mighty Himalayas and do sketching and landscaping in the picturesque surroundings. The whole expedition was hilarious. In Manali, on our way back, we met Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. He talked to students with great interest. Cameras were clicked.

(b) Again in 1962, Mr. Tankha planned an expedition to Kolahari Glacier in Kashmir. I was with him during all the stages of planning including the study of maps. We started our trek from Pahalgam. On one occasion, we stayed in a houseboat for 5 days in Dal Lake in Srinagar. We visited the three Mughal Gardens, Winter Lake, Manasbal Lake and Gulmarg. I painted landscapes in water colours. Mr. Y.P. Bharadwaj was also with us.

(c) In late 1962, Mr. Tankha
went to England. Till then Mr. Tankha had trained me. I organised a trek to Pindari Glacier in Kumaon Hills.

OP Bhatnagar (Ex- Teacher, Hindi and Arts , he often accompanied Mr. Tankha on trekking excursions)

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Versatile

One of the biggest contributions of Mr. Tankha was on sports field. The way he created and celebrated the Annual Athletics Day in a grandiose manner is still being followed in School. Some pictures from the grounds:Tea after sports with Mr GS Punia the Bursar and Mr. JK Kate the headmaster.The grand conduct of the Athletics in 1960s. Watching are staff as judges. Mr KC Tandon (music), Mr PN Mathu and other helper staff.. Judges at the finish line. each tracking time of different positions in the race and jotting down the results.Atheletics Day, Mr. Kate and Mr. Takha supervising Prize distribution . Gen. PN Thapar is the chief Guest. As Western Army Commander, in 1960  he signed the approval of the School Model Mr Tankha as Photographer on the visit of Defence Minister YB  Chavan. Using 16 mm movie camera  which could not be traced  many years later nor the important historical films shot of that era.

A trained Mountaineer who took the first trek of school boys to Rohtang Pass in 1961.

leading the way

Resting Point

Meeting the Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru at Manali, below.Mr OP Bhatnagar riding a  ? Horse/ Ass/ Mule

Helping hand!Happy Bunch!

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The woman behind the man

The popular saying goes there is a woman behind every great/successful  man. This is true of Mr Tankha and the woman behind him, his wife, Mrs. Asha Tankha.

As per the Chronicle:

On 27th November;  Mr Tankha was married in Lucknow to Asha Tikku. We extend our hearty congratulation and warmest good wishes for a long and happy married life. (Which incidentally they did have in a large measure, the wishes came true!)

And on 10thDecember back in School; A garden party was held in the grounds of Guest House (now Junior School) in honour of newlywed Mr. and Mrs Tankha. The whole school, Lt Gen Kalwant Singh  and Brigadier Rajinder Singh were present. The Armoured Corps band was in attendance. The music added to the enjoyment. The couple was given a wedding present. It was a part befitting the wonderful couple. (Mr. Tankha was probably the first teacher in school who got married and thus, the grand celebration for a much loved colleague).

Mrs. Tankha was a great lady. Her tall height, beautiful looks, dignified poise and demeanour gave her a stately appearance. Her conduct and the way she carried herself soon made her popular with the staff and the young impressionable students. In the beginning years school was often understaffed. Mrs. Tankha not only helped Mr Tankha in all his jobs but also took on duties in the school when need arose. Foe example;  In beginning of 1961, News came Mrs Grant would not be returning. Miss Rowe moved to Guest House and Mrs McMullen returned to the Secretariat (now Kairon Block) to resume her duties as nursing sister. Mrs. Tankha took charge of Senior boys ‘clothing’.

Again in January 1964, in absence of a mess in charge  the chronicle mentions; Mrs. Tankha has taken charge of the mess in Senior School. All can look forward to delicious meals”.

She took keen interest and helped Mr. Tankha in the affairs of the Ravi House of which he was the Housemaster. She would check the washed hair of Sikh boys, read the house boys’ mails from home, prepared and helped in staging of Ravi House shows. She was adapt at making up Sikh boys as girls for the plays as there were no girls in school at that time. She was also socially active in the staff keeping the good spirit of Staff Family flowing.Mr. JK Kate introducing Mrs Tankha, to the President Dr Rajendra Parsad along with Mrs McMullen the popular Nursing Sister and Ms Rowe an Anglo-Indian teacher in Junior School (her two daughters later studied in the School)Mrs. McMullen,  the elegant ladies Mrs. Tankha and Ms Rowe in conversation with a guest in 1961.Mrs Tankha with MrTankha in the audience.The Ladies club 1963-4. It was an active social platform that kept the Staff members well knit like a family plus entertained. From left Mrs. Singh, Mrs Dr Surjit Singh, Mrs Bedekar from Horlicks (her two sons studied in PPS, Dilip and Sunil) Mrs. Kate, Ms GB Malkani , the tall unmistakable Mrs Tankha, Mrs. Vodden, Mrs. McMullen Nursing sister, Mrs Kumar (w/o of PT instructor Mr.HK Bahri)  and Mrs. Kakkar  (w/o Physics Teacher IB Kakkar, their three kids studied in the PPS). Sitting from left Mrs Sidhu clothes in charge (son , old Nabhaite) Ms J Lamba (Punjabi), Ms Lila Kaka (junior School) and the motherly, Miss Kiratpal Kaur Pannu (later Tandon (served more than forty years as teacher in school, married music teacher Mr KC Tandon and their three children studied in The PPS.)In the forefront of Tug of War of ladies against boys at the Rohti canal picnic. It was fun! And Mrs Tankha and Ms Lila Kak had to be leading it. Mrs. Vodden, Mrs. Punia Ms J Lamba and Mrs. Sidhu are other that can be made out.Forceful  and Full hearted try! with feet dug in.

Dr Jashanjot Singh (S-52,1967)

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 Career graph post ‘The PPS’

After leaving The Punjab Public School, Nabha in July , 1970,  Mr Tankha joined BITS, Pilani School. In 1973 after three years there, he moved to St. Paul’s Darjeeling in West Bengal where he rose to become Acting Rector when the rector left, all of a sudden. In 1980, he was selected to start a new School for Assam Rifles in Shillong, Meghalaya. He enjoyed a formidable reputation at both at BITS Pilani and St.Paul’s Darjeeling. ARPS at Shillong was his icing on the cake. He retired from there with laurels.

Headmasters who were once colleagues in The PPS , as teachers except AJS Grewal second from left. From left Mr. YP Bharadwaj, Gp Capt Grewal, In center is Mr. BS Bhatnagar and next to him the tallest is greying Mr. MN Tankha.  Next to him is Mr Kailash Dar and Mr.. V Bhave is on extreme right. When Mr. Tankha was headmaster of ARPS, Shillong.

When he finally retired from Shillong The family had planned to move to Canada  to live with their now grown up elder kid,  Monty. Unfortunately , unpredictable as God’s doings are , Mr. Tankha suffered a stroke and went into coma, He did not recover from it.

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The passing away of a legendary Teacher

From Chronicle Records:

(An obituary – Chronicle April 2002)

With propound grief we record the sad demise of Mr.M.N.Tankha. He was one of the founding teachers of the PPS Nabha and a pioneer in his own right. His contribution in strengthening the healthy traditions of the school has been immense. On behalf of Mr.M.S.Bedi, the headmaster and entire PPS family we express our condolences.

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Tributes from students , staff and friends

 

MR MN TANKHA

When I joined PPS, Nabha, (Ravi House) around late April 1960, Mr. Mukut Narain Tankha was well settled as the Housemaster of Ravi House. He along with Mr. JK Kate (Head Master) and Mr. S C Cowell (Senior Master) were among the first few members of the faculty to arrive at Nabha.

Mr. Tankha was one of the founding fathers of the school who contributed immensely in making the school reach the status of top-ranking public schools in the country, in a matter of few years.

He took great interest in every student and gave personal attention to those who needed it. He was a great disciplinarian and did not hesitate in giving corporal punishment to those who deserved it. A slap of his huge hand, of six and a half feet frame, would be remembered by the recipient for the rest of the stay in the school. There was no chance of a student committing the same mistake again. I was one of those who experienced that ear-numbing blow once. This is not the only way he gave personal attention. He was also very kind and considerate most of the time.  The students of his time would vouch for that. He was an all-rounder which enabled him to develop multifaceted personality of the students.

Mr. Tankha was a great asset to the school from whom the students learned a lot. I am sure he too must have benefitted greatly from his experience at Nabha – that would stand him in good stead in his future assignments. After his stint at Nabha he joined BITS , Pilani, then St Paul’s Darjeeling, from where he was ‘stolen’ by Assam Rifles Public School at Shillong. He was the founding Headmaster of the school that opened in 1980. His Headmastership there is remembered with great love and respect by the school fraternity. He was given the nickname, ‘Bodu’ (old man). Wonder if he had a nickname in PPS. He didn’t, while I was in the school till 1964

Bhupinder Mander (R-34,1964)Brigadier Bhupinder Mander (R-34) is third from left, Gen Sapru in the centre and Mr Pushapraj Sir is second from right , a close friend of Tankhas. Dr Jashanjot is extreme left.

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TALL IN DEEDS; TALL INDEED

(A tribute to Mr. MN Tankha)

Mr. MN Tankha(MNT), may his soul rest in peace, was the first teacher who arrived in the then Sainik School, Nabha; rechristened as Punjab Public School, Nabha in 1961.  The pioneer Principal, Padmashri JK Kate and MNT prepared the blueprint of the new school while sitting on the majestic marble staircase of Junior School building, which was the erstwhile Maharaja’s guesthouse.  There were no students, no staff members, and no offices, not even a chair to sit on.  Gradually furniture arrived, office started, classrooms and dormitories were fitted up, playgrounds were made and staff residences were furnished.  Beds with extra length were ordered for MNT because of his very long legs.  On 14th April 1960 the new school started with a bang.  The sleepy Nabha town woke up to the towering presence of a new school with an all-India character.  Within 3 years PPS was shining brightly on the Public-School map of India.  Public Schools were amazed.  Pioneer staff brought laurels.  MNT was our spearhead.  Tall, versatile and highly committed, MNT was a pacesetter.  He made Geography Deptt. a fine show window decorated with charts and teaching aids.  He himself made charts and got many made by me in the Art room.  He made maps, models, and relief maps and even produced a “World on a pitcher”.  During the Annual Function, Geography Deptt. had a pride of place.  We worked by nights for exhibitions.

MNT was a keen mountaineer trained by HMI Darjeeling.  He organized the first trekking expedition of the school.  I was with him in the first two expeditions.  I took over this activity from him while he was away to England and to USA.  We were surprised by his stamina and sure-footedness.  He would never sit down during a trek.  He took rest while standing.  Every evening during campfire, he gave useful tips.  He was always helpful and cheerful.  His jokes and anecdotes kept everyone happy.  It was a joy to be with him on expeditions.

MNT was an athletics coach trained by NIS, Patiala.  He used to put his heart and soul into planning and organizing athletics.  He told us how to coach uninitiated students.  He told us about exercises and lead up games.  He single-handedly maintained records in every detail.  Annual athletics was nearly as big a function as Founder’s day.  It was all because of MNT’s imagination and efficiency that the whole school community was proud of the show that we were able to put up.

MNT gave the first house show, the Ravi House show.  Other Housemasters followed the pattern.  MNT had played Basketball and Badminton for Allahabad University during his university days.  He taught Hindi assembly songs before the first music teacher Mr. SR Chatterjee joined PPS (Mr. SC Cowell taught English songs).  He taught drawing before I joined.  He became one with students.  He played with them, danced with them, sang with them and laughed with them.  He was loved and revered.

MNT became Vice Principal of St Paul’s School, Darjeeling and worked there as acting rector, when the rector left.  He later took over Assam Rifles Public School, which flourished under his stewardship.  This tall man with tall deeds is no longer with us.  But he will endlessly live in the memory of his colleagues and his pupils.  This tall man is unforgettable.  I pray to God to grant eternal peace to his soul and give sufficient strength to the bereaved family to bear this loss.

OP Bhatnagar (Ex-Hindi & Art and close associate),Principal, Indian School, Nizwa, Sultanate of Oman

Staff cricket team in 1962-63. Mr Tankha Towering above all. The tall Mr. Khanna first PA to Headmaster on the  left after two years and joined Kurukshetra University. Mr. OP Bhatnagar is third from right in front of Mr. Tankha.

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A letter to Mrs. Tankha on the demise or Mr. MN Tankha 

DR JASHANJOT SINGH BHANGU, MD

50, MAHAVIR MARG, JALANDHAR – 144001

PH 0181-459632 / 459132 / 899829

Friday, May 03, 2002

Dear Mrs. Tankha,

Today I received a copy of the Punjab Public School, Nabha, “Chronicle”.  I was shocked to read about the sad demise of sir MN Tankha.  I passed my Senior Cambridge from School in the year 1967.  I have great memories of Mr. Tankha as a teacher, athletics in-charge and an active member of the School Staff.

Though I was not associated with him as far as Houses are concerned as I was in the Sutlej House, still he left a lasting impression on my mind, which nature has not been able to wipe away even after 35 years.  I still remember the Geography room like a cinema hall with dark curtains to keep light out because Mr. Tankha was very fond of using audio-visual projections as a mode of teaching aid.

Although I took up Medicine after School the system of working which Mr. Tankha followed had affected me.  His habit of giving out cyclo-styled notes, maps and making of charts etc. was adopted by me on certain occasions in my life.  Till date I remember my Geography well and I have tried to pass the same system of learning to my children whenever possible.  We never mugged Geography but understood it well because of Mr. Tankha.

I also remember an occasion when he recited an incident during his stay in UK.  The fruit seller from whom he bought Kashmiri apples was made to realize what real Kashmiri apples taste like when you took some with you on your visit to UK to join Mr. Tankha.

Mr. Tankha and you madam made a very tall and impressive couple.  I am sure all the students of PPS who studied there during Mr. Tanka’s stay must be remembering the same way as I do.  I also remember your son who was very small at that time and if I am not wrong was his name Monty?

I had always wanted to meet Mr. Tankha after leaving School but because he always remained in the East there was no opportunity.  I would still like to remain in touch with his family so kindly let me know how you and the family are keeping.

This year we were planning to have a get together of the ISC Batch which passed out in 1967.  One of the few teachers and their families that we wanted to invite was Mr. Tankha.  I feel sad that this cannot happen now.

Please accept my heart and soul felt condolences.  What cannot be cured must be endured.  I pray to God that He gives the Tankha family the strength to bear the unrepairable loss.  I am sure in heaven Mr. Tankha has joined the galaxy of stars like Mr. Kate, Ms. Malkani and Mr. Cowell.

If the Old Nabhaites Association or any Old Nabhaite or me in particular can be of any help to the family at any occasion it will be an honour.

Sincerely

Dr Jashanjot Singh Bhangu, MD (S-52, 1967)

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Response from Mrs Asha Tankha

Oakville

2/6/02

Dear Jashanjot,

I received your letter redirected from India by my niece who lives in the same colony. I remember your name but do not recall your features or face.

I am very thankful to you for writing so nice things about my husband. He loved his work and he always tried to do his best. I am really touched by your sentiments and feel happy and proud that my husband is still alive in the minds of his students and friends.

You have a good memory, yes, my elder son is Monty and the younger son was born in Nabha only- is  Timmy. Their names are Rajeev with whom I am staying here in Toronto (pet name  ,Monty) and he lives here with wife Shirley and son Karan (10yrs) and daughter Kaveri (7yrs). The younger son Sanjeev, wife Sharmila and son Varun (2yrs) live in Los Angeles. He and his wife are both are Architects, both passed out from S.P.A. (Delhi) and did their Masters from UCLA.

My husband and myself were coming to live here with Monty. Unfortunately, before we could come here, he suffered a stroke and went into Coma. ‘This is the story of man proposes God disposes.

My sons and myself are thankful to you for taking trouble to write to us. Whenever we go to India, if possible, we would like to get in touch with you.

With best wishes,

Sincerely,

Asha Tankha.

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 Mr. and Mrs M.N. Tankha

Life in boarding school is very difficult from a normal day school. It is unique in every aspect. Since we were in the school for almost eight long months away from the parents and devoid of all their love and comforts of the home. We sought that from teachers especially the Housemaster.

I joined The Punjab Public School, Nabha in Jan, 1961 and passed out in December, 1967. My first Housemaster was Miss KPK Pannu, that was when I was in the Junior School.  She was unmarried but was more than a mother for us. We grew up under her tender care in classes V & VI.

It was in 1963 that I moved to the Senior School in class VII. Here Mr. M.N. Tankha was the Housemaster of the Ravi House. He had a towering personality. He was the tallest of all the teachers, not only in height but in every other aspect of life. We had to literally look up to him for everything.

Ravi House was in the Old Secretariat building on the right side of road to Ripudaman College entrance. I think it is now called the Middle House. Mr. Tankha ‘s house (at that time newly constructed) was behind the Ravi House dormitories. He lived in such close proximity , not only in physical distance but also in our hearts. I still remember his gentle affable and loving smile. He would listen to all our problems with rapt attention and had a solution for each. I and am sure all other boys doted on him and never had any hesitation apprising him as and when we needed his loving care and attention. We would see him daily at the Rouser, house inspection before breakfast, during the meals, in the class, on the playgrounds and finally before the ‘Lights Out’ I vividly recall ‘morning inspection’, how we would stand daily beside our bed fully dressed up for the school before breakfast. He would come and minutely inspect and ensure we were all well dressed, shoes polished, nails cut and carrying a clean handkerchief etc.

His house was a second home for us all. We were welcome to go there as and when we needed his help. At times I visited his house to play with his son ,Monty, the other one was too small then.

I would go to his house on Tuesday mornings, after having my hair wash to show my hair to Mrs. Tankha who would have a careful look to make sure that the hair had been washed properly. Other Sikh boys followed similar routine. She was like a Commanding Officer’s wife performed the duty ungrudgingly. During the Ravi House Show, she would arrange dresses for us and do the makeup. Since there were only two girls in Ravi House at that time, Jyoti Kate (R-52, the Headmaster Mr.. Kate’s daughter) and Basanti Mathu (R-73, d/o Mr. PN Mathu , Commerce teacher at that time) the role of girls was given to Sikh boys because of their long hair. It was she who disguised us for the role. What a BEAUTIFUL BODY & SOUL!

I would go to Mr. Tankha’s  house to collect Rs 1.50 as fare to Sangrur by bus, whenever we were permitted to go home on weekends or on Diwali. I will never forget how Mr. Tankha saved me and Mandeep Grewal (R-70) when we were caught by the MOST DREADED, BUT ALSO LOVED Mr. Sam Cowell , the Senior Master. One unlucky summer afternoon during the rest time (after Lunch) when we both had escaped from the school to have ice-cream in the Green’s restaurant near the Patiala Gate (probably not there anymore) behind the school boundary wall/ We were caught while we were trying to jump back into the school over the wall. We were saying to each other “Hope Mr. Cowell doesn’t catch us!” Sure enough, he was omnipresent to do just that. Before we realised what was happening he caught us by our ears and pulled us up. The matter was brought to Mr. Tankha’s notice but what a darling he was. Like any parent he did not punish us and let us go Scot free after advising lovingly.

Mr. Tankha was a superb teacher – par excellence. Being in Arts group, I had the privilege  and good luck of being his student right up to Class XI. He knew Geography inside out. Each lesson was a treat in itself and I eagerly waited to attend his Geography class (and Mr. Bharadwaj’s History class).

He too liked me, I believe, as he made me and Surinderpal Singh (R-68) in charge of the Geography exhibition in 1967 when Mr. Dharamvira , the Governor of Punjab was invited to be the chief guest on the Founders’ Day.

All the credit goes to the Padma Shri JK Kate for hand picking such intelligent, compassionate and dedicated teachers. They were all of a different breed (extinct now). I have been a teacher all my life and also a Headmaster……

I only I wish could be anything like them.

Kulwinder Singh (R-44,1967)

Kulwinder Singh (R-44) showing his Geography model to Chief guest Dharamveera Governor of Punjab while a proud teacher and Housemaster Mr MN Tankha looks on from behind him

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Excellent Teacher, Great Organiser!

My father decided to accompany me to school for my admissions and to deposit me there. We boarded the Deluxe (train) from Bombay to New Delhi at Baroda. We were in New Delhi for a day and my father borrowed a car from a friend to drive to Nabha. I remember very distinctly that we stayed at Greens Hotel at Patiala that night and drove up the final 16 kms to Nabha the next morning. We met Mr. Kate and later Mr. Punia who was the Bursar in those days and I was admitted to school. Mr. Kate called Mr. M. N. Tankha (Geography) to introduce my father and I was assigned to Ravi House (R- 90). My father built an enduring friendship with Mrs. & Mr. Tankha (also House master-Ravi) which lasted well beyond my time at school.

That afternoon Mr. Kate invited us for lunch at his house which was in a part of the building that housed the junior school. After that my father drove off to return to New Delhi and back to Baroda.

Mr. Mukut Narain Tankha was my House Master and he taught me Geography. He was a tall man with an equally towering personality. A great organiser. He was the man behind the athletic meets at the school. We were always accepted very graciously into his home. Mrs. (Asha) Tankha was also involved in the activities in the House and a great source of inspiration. We used to exchange books (novels) for reading and then discussed the nuances of what we had read. Their first son was called Monty after General Montgomery. They had a second son called, if I am not mistaken, Timmy after General Thimayya. Mr. Tankha was an excellent Geography teacher and encouraged us to take up projects in Geography. We built realistic models of various countries, continents and significant expeditions like Tenzing and Hillary’s ascent of the Everest and displayed these to visiting dignitaries and on Founders’ Day.

Mr. Tankha left school and was at one stage the Head Master at the Birla Public School, Pilani and I caught up with him there as I was studying engineering at Pilani at that time.

Ashok Balwani (R-90,1966)

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We had the delightful Mr. Tankha who taught us Geography using projectors and slides and films in 1960s!!

Dr Vineet Mehta (J-72,1967), USA,  from a letter by him

These are boys of Jumna 1967 doing a song on stage. Vineet Mehta is third from left

A memory of Mr. Tankha

For Holi and Dusshera the whole school walked to a place called Rohti. It was about a two km walk then along the Sutlej Canal. One year Mr Tankha had arranged a treasure hunt along the way. Rohti had a government rest house where we could rest. We had games and the boys played around and loved jumping in the Sutlej canal. It was great fun and everyone had a great time. We spent the whole day there and came back in the evening.

Jyoti Kate Mahajan (R-52,1967)

Jyoti Kate  (r-52,1967) d/o the headmaster Mr JK Kate is in the center of three girls.  She is flanked by Surinder Punia on the left and Basant Mathu (R-73,1967) on the right. They were the first few girls in School. Only Indira Surjit Singh (S-33) was senior to them. All were staff children . The boys is Raghuvender Punia (Pebbles) son of Bursar Mr. GS Punia.

As far as I can recollect, with some great fondness about Geography, it was Mr. Tankha. Being one of my favourite subjects, I feel the style and the content with which Mr. Tankha taught was  inimitable and to me it has been extremely impressionistic, the relevance of which it still retains in my life.

That is exactly how I would describe Mrs Tandon’s style and expertise as well. Mr Tankha probably left long before any of my classmates set foot in Nabha.

Devinder Sodhi (J-75,1969)

I remember Mr. Tankha singing a popular song Thumbelina with associated action which were very amusing.

He had an old Lambretta scooter when no staff member had in school. All including headmaster Mr. Kate had bicycles.

While marking the athletics track which is his legacy to school, he would take four rounds of the track to make sure the route measured 1600meters (it was 400 meters track). At the end of it he would look at the odometer of the scooter for confirmation.

He had a role in forming Sets in sports, screening films, hiking, photography and drama. Asha , his wife continued to play a complimentary role in every sphere. The games sets were based on a unique formula   devised by Mr. Tankha . It took into account height in inches, weight in pounds and age in months.  There were big boys from junior classes in same set as small boys from Senior classes. So that physical attributes and maturity in age both formed basis of being in a particular set.

Harikirtan (S-24,1967 higher secondary)

Harikirtan (S-24,1967Hr. Sec. , 1967) with classmates in school. He is on extreme left.

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Tribute to Mr. MN Tankha from a Lifelong friend beginning at The PPS.

After joining the PPS, on my first glimpse I see a very tall and handsome man with infectious smile and well-dressed personality approaching me and welcoming me amongst the folds of school staff. Right along with him was his wife, equally a great and dignified personality. They were a made for each other kind of couple that one used to see in the cigarette commercials in the 60’s and 70’s. We took a liking for each other and our friendship blossomed. They made friends easily and it was evident from the fact that there was always a hustle and bustle at their residence with a number of friends visiting them on a regular basis. Almost every day after lunch we were invited to a cup of tea at their residence. The regular visitors included M/s. R.Sibal (English),Yashpal  Bhardwaj (History), O P Bhatnagar (Hindi), Kailash Dar (History), and others. Jokes and cheer galore for about half an hour or so.

Before joining PPS, Mr Tankha had taught at Modern School Delhi. Hence he brought a public-school experience with him which came in good stead at the PPS. Besides, he is a product of a public school himself. That helps a person understand and appreciate the culture and working of a public school.

I also got to know their families whom I frequently visited in Patiala. Mrs Tankha’s father visited PPS a couple of times and we became good friends. At his invitation I visited him in Lucknow once.

After Mr Tankha left PPS for Birla public school Pilani, I along with Mr BS Bhatnagar went to visit them there. I stayed in touch with them even after I emigrated to the USA, so much so that they paid me a visit in Rochester. They were the first couple to visit. We travelled extensively in New York state, reminiscing about PPS days. Till this day I am in touch with both their sons, Monty and Timmy, who are settled in California.

Mr Tankha wore many hats: Games Master, House Master, in charge of treks to the mountains, dramatics, debates,  Geography Society, photography, etc. Graceful and gracious Mrs Tankha helped with the dramatics, make-up, etc.

As a Games Master he drew the weekly charts of the sports activities in every field and the assignments given to teachers to conduct sports. He impeccably kept all the records of sports activities. Being an active mountaineer himself he was well known in the mountaineering circles. Mr Tenzing Norgay, the first Nepalese to scale Mount Everest, was his personal friend, who used to visit him when Mr Tankha was posted as Deputy Headmaster at St Paul’s Darjeeling.

We all know that Mr Tankha was a very tall man. On his first day of arrival the school authorities were not aware of his height and no bed was big for him. Being a good support Mr Tankha managed his first night somehow roughing it, but soon the following day a special bed was made for him.

Mr Tankha was known for his sense of humour, and could take a joke.

His love and care for his House boys was well known. Many a nights after dinner I would see him having a one-on-one chat/conversations with the students concerning their welfare relating to studies, discipline, or otherwise. He was known for never ever losing his temper. His approach to the students was always polite, no matter what the circumstances were.

Mr Tankha was always keen to improve his teaching methods so that his students could benefit more. While at School, he was granted Bursary by the UK government. He spent a year there and had gained a great experience.

Next, he wanted to explore further and was lucky to go  to the USA on a Fulbright scholarship where, Though, he was to go to the USA for 1 year but after seeing his potential and hunger for further knowledge they extended his stay by another 6 months. A rarity.

Mr Tankha was very fond of photography. A camera was always hanging on his shoulders.  A 16mm movie camera during special functions like Founders’ Day was bought for him by the school.

He was truly a role model for his students

Pushapraj Arora  (long serving PA to Mr JK Kate who was well known to all the staff members and students of his time and respected by them. He had special friendship with staff members of his time which has lasted life long. His friendship with Tankha family was that of a close family member)

Pushapraj Arora , from a farewell party of 1967 batch in fancy dress. He is the Panditji to the right of ‘flower girl’ Anita Williams a British VSO teacher in school at that time.

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 (Assam Rifles Public School, Shillong)

 After Darjeeling Mr Tankha joined the Assam Rifles Public School. He was the founding principal of the school there. Since he had worked closely with Mr Kate from the inception of the PPS he had learnt a lot about the functioning of a new school. The students of that school still remember him. A great many tributes were paid at his passing.

To sum up, I would say that Mr Tankha was an exceptional and legendary teacher,  who has left his mark in the field of education, passion to serve for the cause of education, care for the students in every possible way, and come up to the expectations of parents, and colleagues.

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The Love and regard of ARPS LAITKOR  students: 

A tribute to Mr M N Taknkha would be incomplete without reflecting on how his students at Assam Rifles Public School, Shillong saw him. He started the School as Founder Headmaster and gave it his blood and sweat. The students there remember him  in the same way as students of The PPS remember Mr. JK Kate the Founder Headmaster,  with a lot of respect, affection and love.

Below is a tribute from one of his students and comments of few others from Facebook.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

MR MN TANKHA, ARPS LAITKOR 

Mr MN Tankha
Visionary, inspirational Headmaster who empowered a generation and proved that good people can be empowered anywhere.

As I sit in the lobby of Buxton Palace Hotel in the sublime surroundings of the peak district in the UK, my thoughts go back twenty-five years back and I think about Shillong and particularly about one person who made such a huge difference to the life of a whole generation. We were lucky to train under Mr MN Tankha. He was the first Principal of the Assam Rifles Public School.

The immediate provocation of thinking about Mr Tankha has been the penetration of Facebook into our lives and old school mates linking up after nearly twenty-five years. What I have noticed on the discussion boards has been that the one factor which links together the Laitkorian family is the abiding love and respect they have for Mr Tankha.

So, what was so striking about him? The first thing which would have struck anyone was his height [quite a few inches over six feet]. My abiding memory of him remains the sight of him coming down the hill from his office for assembly dressed in a suit and wearing the black master’s robe flying behind him in the wind. Here comes ’Budo’ [ Old man] the whispers would fly. He of course knew his nick name and often joked about it.

To understand Mr Mukut Narain Tankha’s work, one has to understand the socio-political milieu of the Northeast in the late seventies. The Northeast at that time was a far-off corner of the Union of India with a million mutinies brewing within the seven sister states. Amongst all this unrest, the most powerful confrontation between the citizens and the Indian Union had been started in Assam. The Assam agitation was initially powered by the students and soon acquired substantial public support. The basic issue was the state of Assam in particular was being overrun by ‘foreigners’ from Bangladesh. As part of their strategy, the agitationists resorted to blocking oil refineries from sending oil to the Indian mainland; blocking government functioning and closing down schools.

My father worked as a banker and in 1979 he was posted at Gauhati [now Guwahati]. I was studying at the Don Bosco school. By March 1981,the agitation had intensified and I had not been to school for a full year! I was promoted to the next class without ever having set foot inside the class. A most unsatisfactory state of affairs and that was when my father who had heard of a promising boarding school in Shillong, decided to send me there. There were plenty of parents thinking the same and as a result there was a substantial number of students who turned up at the Assam Rifles Public School at Laitkor, Shillong [ARPS].

ARPS had been conceptualised by Gen Sushil Kumar whom we often met in our first few years in the school. Gen Kumar was the Director General of Assam Rifles.

The Assam Rifles are one of the Paramilitary forces of India. Originally called Cachar Levy, this force has a proud 175-year history. The 46 battalions perform many roles including conduct of counter insurgency and border security operations. The soldiers and Officers of Assam Rifles had to be on the move due to the nature of their jobs and Gen Kumar observed that their children did not have access to quality education and he founded the school at Laitkor, Shillong. Situated about 6000feet above sea level on Assam Rifles land, he wanted deserving children of Assam Rifles personnel to have access to education.

It is alright to have grandiose ideas but it is another thing to be able to successfully implement those ideas. In order to have a School at par with public schools in India, Gen Kumar needed a visionary as the head of his school and selecting Mr Tankha was a master stroke. Once Mr Tankha came on board, the school took wings. Mr Tankha arrived from St Pauls Darjeeling with a formidable reputation and experience.

The next requirement for success is to have a successful team around you. A good Chief Executive gives shape to a project by his hiring and firing decisions. Mr Tankha succeeded in attracting top teaching talent from St Paul’s initially. Mr SK Bannerjee [ Maths, later Principal],Mr Julian Egbert [Physics],Mrs Sharmistha Sen and Mr T Dasgupta [Biology],Miss Indie Sondhi [English],Mr Mazumdar[Music],Mr Gogoi[Arts], Mr Pramod Kumar [Chemistry] and Mrs Tankha [Hindi] came from pedigreed backgrounds .What was truly more amazing was that as students we saw great teamwork amongst the staff as they truly worked hard to get our first few batches up and going and competing against the best in the region. We students felt part of a family. For example, I can remember us doing English homework sitting in Miss Sondhie’s kitchen or Mr Thomas’s living room. We could knock on most teacher’s rooms for help even out of hours. The housemasters were very supportive and once I even had to do baby-sitting duties at one of our teachers!!The teachers, we students believed had a great social life I believe due to primarily Mr and Mrs Tankha’s belief in playing hard and partying hard. The staff party news was often leaked to us the senior students by a certain gentleman who was nicknamed after an Italian poet. Many of you would have guessed by now. There were lots of picnics, movies and plenty of fun to be had.

The most important role of a Headmaster has been said to be that of a head master. He should be a master teacher. Mr Tankha’s classes in Geography were master-classes in succinctness, brevity and clarity in style. An important aspect of his class was his emphasis what we call in Medicine as outcome measures. It was not enough for him teach. He wanted to know whether we had understood the principles and the home work he asked us to do was quite similar to the problem-based learning model we use for medical students today.

He also served as model for integrity and fostered empowerment. Mr Tankha had a great ability to instil self-esteem which is an essential prerequisite for success. This he did in many ways but the most innovative one was the meeting of class prefects with the faculty and Head master present. A class 4 prefect’s statement was taken as seriously as a class 12 or School Captain’s presentation. This was democracy and consensus building at its best.

The students felt part of the management team and had ownership of the organisation. Today when in the NHS in the UK there is plenty of bemoaning of the fact that management don’t work in sync with Clinicians, there is a lesson to be learnt from Mr Tankha’s inclusive team meetings[It’s rare to find a clinician who knows how the Chief Executive of the trust looks like!!].

Mr Tankha was a great communicator and all parents of that era would vouch for it. He had a great feel for the moment. Laitkor is located close to the wettest place on Earth, Cherrapunjee. So, after weeks of rain, the mood turned gloomy and sullen all round. When the sun opened up and Mr Tankha announced that the choir would be singing ‘All things bright and beautiful….’,we knew a ‘Sunshine holiday’ was on the cards.

Everyone knows the importance of marketing today. When you have started a school and wish that it’s success breeds more success, it’s probably important to spread the word. We were lucky that Mr Tankha could attract top talent from across societal spectrum to visit the school. Whether it was Brigadier Gyan Singh telling us about his role in the first Indian expedition to Everest or General Vaidya the C in C of the Army or a United Nation representative, a North east Council member or a sportsman/ politician, this gave the students a chance to meet top performers from diverse fields during their formative years.

When Gen Sushil Kumar retired, there was a real danger of losing support of the next Assam Rifles DG. To Mr Tankha’s credit, his messianic zeal and belief in the project saw to it that the transitions in the power structure did not affect the school and in a few years he succeeded in institutionalising the administrative structure of the school.

The ICSE examinations of the first batch would decide the school’s reputation and there was quite a bit of pressure on the teachers. I remember Mr Egbert asking me after the exams whether I would be able to get 70% at least. The first batch surpassed those expectations. Going back to the beginning of the ICSE examinations, I remember Mrs Tankha coming into what was our dugout in those days [Holding House] and stuffing rasgullas into our mouths and blessing each one of us individually. Where else would you feel like family except at Laitkor? Behind every successful man is a woman. In this case it was the graceful Mrs Asha Tankha. She kept the wheels moving especially on the social side of things apart from being a teacher. I can still hear her laughter in the staff room. She lives currently in Canada and the US with her sons Timmy and Monty.

Long before ‘Environment’ had become a buzz word, Mr Tankha had involved the students in ‘Shram daan’ and we planted all those thousands of trees which sway in the wind today. He was truly way ahead of his time.I did not get to meet him after 1986 and he died a few years back. I have always missed his presence long after leaving school and I am sure there are many of us who feel the same. Some people are born to be greater than life and Mr Tankha was one of them. Men like him come along once in a few generation.

Like I said at the beginning, facebook has linked us together after a long hiatus and I can still sometimes hear somewhere in the background the strains of the choir singing..

‘When the old school cry resounds
We come running to the mound
Joyous and we celebrate
…………

Pain HQ at 00:47

comments:

DEBARUN28 March 2010 at 05:54

thank you brother for the write up…it is truly a gift for us OLA students and the present liatkorians….during my school days we had heard of all the stories of Late Shri M.N Tankha and his contribution to the school…how he had made ARPS into what it was…and that ARPS was not the same once he left…he was a great soul…and brother I didn’t meet you (my stay-1998-2004)..but I can connect with u ,with all that u have said. I can assure this there are many who share the same wit u..and lastly I salute the great soul Late MR M.N Tankha..

Unknown28 March 2010 at 06:12

A moving tribute…a well-deserved one. We are the fortunate few to have been Sir Tankha’s pupils who reared us all. He was a legendary figure, simply extraordinary…”sui generis” as they say-incomparable and unparallel.
Your write up is lucid and moving. You are one of his most favourite and talented students from Laitkor.
Thanks Devjit Da for sharing your thoughts and thanks to FB for taking us back to the formative days of our life.
Salutations to Sir Tankha and thanks to the Lord for giving us an opportunity to be a part of Laitkor which memories we cherish till date and throughout.

Indian Citizen from UK28 March 2010 at 11:05

Right from the 1st word gives a feeling which cannot be expressed in words am sure such crisp yet detailed information can only rule the Podium.

We have been fortunate to share the atmosphere with the Greatest of the Great. Thank you God for giving us opportunity to see, listen, smell the fragrance of the wonderful personality.

Debjit sorry Dr Debjit bhaya thank you for sharing the Implausible moments.

Unknown3 April 2010 at 14:52

Hi Dev just read the beautifully written statement it really took me back to 1980 when I was there but and left ARPS in 1982 didn’t spent much but took a lot from there the love of teachers and all my mates I can still remember when you use to be the house prefect everything you have mentioned were the days of our life I still do miss it from the bottom of my heart and wish I could turn back time.’

Deepankar’s EASTMAN1 May 2010 at 07:55

Thanks! for the Lovely Article that u wrote for all of us!
Truly Moving and so True! Really, those were the hard Days when ARPS was just Formed (I mean 1980-82). But when I look back now, I proudly say What I am today is because of what I have learned and was Taught in ARPS

warm regards
Deepankar Roy
AC 34 (1980-83)

rzz25 November 2013 at 05:38

A very well written tribute to a great Man! I had a lump in my throat by the end of it. Mr Tankha was truly a Tall person in every sense of the world! I have seen him only for one year – the year I joined in 1990 but he is definitely one of the most inspiring persons I have ever met. His leadership traits were legendary. Thank you bro for sharing this.
“Here In Laitkor, We are learning n Playing”…….

Kumar25 November 2013 at 19:25

Dear Bro !

You have re-articulated the Spirit of ARPS and Mr. Tankha (Though I never had the opportunity to meet him), I can surely feel his visionary personality.

ARPS is the base of my life.

Thanks
Kumar Kishore
MZ 475
1996-2005
Guwahati

Sandeep Roy19 January 2016 at 10:09

As an ex-APRP student I agree to what Devijit da says. Being in ARPS from 1986-93 have seen it all. I felt I was in a jail when in school but once out I understand how comfortable and safe I was there. I am whatever I am today because of ARPS and I AM PROUD OF IT

Utpal Bora16 July 2020 at 19:57

Nostalgia into the past superbly written Senior.
Utpal Bora, 1987-1994.

Zaua chenkual31 March 2021 at 03:19

Sir it’s a blessing 4 a bum like me to have been your student… You are my inspiration and my idol

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Post  The Punjab Public School, Nabha

After leaving The Punjab Public School in 1970, the Tankhas stayed away from Punjab because of working in far off schools like Pilani, Darjeeling and Shillong. His students from the School who had lot of regard and respect for the Family did not get a chance to meet them again. After retirement from Shillong, Mr Tankha  did not enjoy his retirement. He could not even travel to be with his son in Canada before God  took him away after suffering a stroke leading to comma and never recovring.

Few years after his passing away,  Mrs.Tankha visited Punjab in 2007 , to meet old friends from School like Punias, Pushapraj and Tandons. The Old Nabhaites who still remembered the Tankhas,  invited Mrs. Tankha for an ONA party in Chandigarh as the guest of honour. Many Old Nabhaites turned up to pay respects to her and usher in the New Year 2008. Below is description of the evening and few photos.

Ushering in the New Year 2008 (yes, It is old now)

Old Nabhaites Association organized a Grand Party at DSOI, Sector 36, for a fellowship dinner and to usher in the New Year on Jan 6, 2008. Over 120 Old Nabhaites from USA, UK, Patiala, Jalandhar, Bathinda, Amritsar, etc., attended despite the cold wave. Col IP Singh (J-77,1965) secretary, DSOI had made special arrangements to keep the cold out by enclosing the whole space from all sides including The gazebo where the live band played and closed it from top with a shamiana. The entrance was an S turn to keep the cold air out. Here young girls looked after the reception counter with enthusiasm. Each Old Nabhaite got a gift as he entered the venue. It came in the shape of a coffee mug with the school emblem and Nabhaite written on it. The whole venue was gorgeously decorated by Garry Arts owned by Abninder Grewal (J-4,1960-61), Mohali, There are many ONs in Grewal family.

The Guest of Honour was the elegant Mrs. Tankha from US, wife of a much-loved ex teacher, late Mr. MN Tankha (Ex- Geography, Ravi House Master, Athletics In charge , photographer and trekker), who was one of the founder teachers of the School in 1960s. Mr. Tandon, Mrs. Tandon, ex teachers, Mr. GS Punia, ex Bursar with his wife, Pushp Raj, an ex-staff member from US, attended the dinner. The Old Nabhaite VIP at the occasion who registered himself like any other old Nabhaite was Lt Gen Tej Sapru (S-42,1964)  The present Head Master Cmdr. IL Syal came from Nabha along with his charming wife.

The cake to usher in the New Year was cut by Mrs. Tankha and Mrs. Tandon, and the toast for the health and prosperity of Old Nabhaites and their Association in 2008 was proposed by Lt Gen Tej Kumar Sapru (S-42), GOC-in- C, Western Command. It was the first ON function for him after his posting to Chandigarh. A live jazz band kept the ONs on their toes. They danced with their families, to melodious jazz tunes till the end of the party. There was not a soul (age and medical condition no bar) who did not dance with abandon. Even the band members sensing the appreciation of their music stepped up the tempo.

Throughout the Party a slide show from history was on along with events of PPS including a horse show. Various events of ONA conducted over the years were also shown. Projection of slides from the history of the School and that of Old Nabhaites Association was an added attraction for the proud ONs.

Many senior and junior Old Nabhaites attended the party. It would be unfair to name only a few in this party of equals.

When it was time for the large group photograph with the guests, all ONs behaved like children all over again, vying with each other to be in the frame.

Organizers, led by Col DPS Waraich (J-155,1972) with guidance from Dr Jashanjot (S-52,1967), did an excellent job. Some of those present labeled it the best ONA party ever. Lovejit Saraon (J-156,1971) and Col JS Randhawa (J-60,1968)  were all over the place looking after the needs of the ON family. Col PS Gill (B-299,1976) closely monitored the music and dance making it most enjoyable. He had arranged his army Unit band for the occasion. The arrangements under the eagle eye of Col Inderpal  Singh (J-77-1965) and his efficient team were admired by everybody. The charming Maj Manmoninder Kaur (B-973,1996) emceed the event. But the trophy for the best effort if there has to be one goes to tireless and never say no Old Nabhiate, Ms. Gagandeep (B-678, 1987). She spent the whole afternoon decorating the venue with Neelu Sandhu (B-807, 1988) and their children and workers. As the party started, she got the reception counter going. When the guests started to come in she slipped out quietly and went to board a night bus to Jammu as she was to join her husband in Doda next day. All she said before leaving with a smile on her face was “Sir, Can I go now?” If we have such dedicated workers that too ladies who are usually tied down, one can be sure ONA has a long and bright future. There should be an ONA Roll of Honour for such dedicated selfless workers.

Dr. Jashanjot Singh (S-52,1967)

The cake cutting by The distinguished ladies of The PPS. Guest of Honour Mrs. Tankha and Mrs. Tandon. Dr  Jashanjot  is  second  from  right next to Dr. Coonar  (S-22,1966)Mrs. Tankha in conversation with Gen Sapru, Col IP Singh, Mrs. Punia and Gen Gurjit Singh.A gift for the little one from Mrs.Tankha
Age is only a number. Mr Tandon and Mrs. Tankha joining in the dance followed by Gen Sapru.A gift for the guest from Mrs Tandon. Mrs Tandon and Mr Tankha were one of the first four or five teachers to join the school when it started in 1960 within a month of each other, Mr. Tankha had joined earlier. Mr Tankha got married within a year and brought Asha Tikku Tankha to school as his wife. That’s how old their association went. Manjit Saraon (Jumna, 1966) the lucky guy who got to have a dance with the charming Mrs. Tankha.

FEW YEARS AFTER THIS PARTY, MRS. ASHA TIKKU TANKHA TOO PASSED AWAY TO JOIN HER HUSBAND IN HEAVEN!

Thus came to end the beautiful story of a beautiful couple , leaving many  saddened hearts . As one of the prayers in the school says:

“Time like an ever roaring stream bears all its sons away……”

(Researched and compiled by Dr Jashanjot Singh S-52, 1967)

The Inimitable Senior Master, Mr. Samuel Charles Cowell

Mr Samuel Charles Cowell (English Teacher, Senior Master)

(1960-1966)

Mr. SC Cowell , an Anglo-Indian, was one of the veterans who joined the School along with Mr. MN Tankha in March,1960, just after Mr.JK Kate was handed over the reins of building The Sainik School, Nabha. In fact, he had been with Mr. Kate in The  Lawrence School,  Sanawar and had retired and was doing a stint at BCS ,Simla. At Mr. Kate’s bidding,  Mr. Cowell came out of retirement to lend a helping hand to his colleague and friend at Nabha.

Despite being elderly, his was always an imposing personality due to his penchant for discipline and order. He put all his experience to good use and played a monumental role in laying strong foundations of the school.

After the departure of Dr Surjit Singh, the first Senior Master of the school on deputation from Punjab government, Mr. Cowell  shouldered the responsibility of Senior Master too for the interim period before Mr. Vodden took over the office. After Mr. Vodden left for England, Mr. Cowell once again occupied the chair of Senior Master and continued to hold the post till his retirement in December, 1966.

The boys (mainly of  Punjab) affectionately referred to him as “baba” in Punjabi and in private with respect for his age and his authority. He is still fondly remembered by Old Nabhaites of that period for his varied moods, fondness for the eternal Punjabi sweet “pinnies” and maintaining a diary that he called “VOLTAS”, an acronym for “Volume of Liars, Thieves and Scoundrels”. All students lived in perennial fear of having their name entered in the VOLTAS since it meant “no movies, no pocket-money, extra PT, but  eating those dishes that they least liked”.

On 8th December 1966, a farewell party was organized to bid farewell to Mr. S C Cowell on his retirement.


The following excerpts are taken from different chronicles in the early 1960s. 

March, 1960 The year ‘The Punjab Public School’ started as ‘The Sainik School’, Nabha started 

When Mr Kate came to Nabha to take charge, all he found were two large, vacant, and untidy buildings. He borrowed a chair from the Sub Divisional Officer and started his office in the porch of the Guest House. Though Mr Cowell had promised to join PPS early, the credit for officially reporting first on duty goes to Mr Mukut Narain Tankha who had started his career as a Geography teacher at Modern School, New Delhi. Though the exact dates are unknown, both Mr Cowell and Mr Tankha joined PPS in the month of March, 1960. It was the trio of Mr Kate, Mr Cowell and Mr Tankha that prepared the blueprint for functioning of the school.

Since furniture was not available at the time they joined, the legend has it that they would sit on the marble staircase in the Guest House and chalk out the details.

Sainik School, Nabha, being a residential public school in character, an important decision had to be taken regarding ‘Houses’. Both Mr Kate and Mr Cowell had come from Lawrence School, Sanawar, and it was quite natural that Sanawar was the source of inspiration for this crucial decision. Sanawar has four houses – Himalaya, Vindhya, Nilagiri and Siwalik representing prominent north Indian mountain ranges. For Sainik School Nabha, Mr Kate hit upon the idea of four main rivers of Punjab i.e., Beas, Jumna, Ravi and Sutlej.

HOUSE                 COLOUR

BEAS                    Blue

JUMNA                Yellow

RAVI                     Red

SUTLEJ                Green

To identify boys from different houses, it was proposed that the boys shall use under-turban of their respective house colour. However, since this method did not work for non-sikh boys, an additional house colour stripe was added to the school tie to address the problem later. Though it is noteworthy here that presently students wear a uniform school tie irrespective of their house.

Mr Cowell, being an academician, planned the curriculum and timetable.

To start a new school with no staff, no infrastructure, and no students demanded vision, intelligence, and the co-operation of a dedicated team. Mr. Kate began to build one with Mr Samuel Charles Cowell, an English teacher, who had recently retired from Sanawar. On Mr Kate’s request to join him at Nabha and help him in kickstarting the new venture, Mr Cowell came out of his retirement to lend a helping hand to his former colleague. Mr Cowell had the reputation of being a strict disciplinarian at Sanawar and he brought every bit of it to Nabha. Interviews were also conducted for the post of Senior Master, teachers, administrative staff, matrons, nursing sister and other ancillary staff.

The group that gave the School a great start. Ms GB Malkani , head Junior School, Mr M Vodden, the English head from British Council, Mr SC Cowell (English and later Senior Master right hand of Mr Kate), Mr GS Punia the bursar, Dr Surhit Singh Bedi (Senior Master) , Mr JK Kate and Mr MN Tankha (geography) with Guest Defence Minister of India YB Chavan.

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First Official Day of The Punjab Public School (14th April,1960)

Gen Kalwant Singh, Chairman of the school committee addressed the school on behalf of the His excellency the Governor of Punjab, Mr. NV Gadgil , who could not make it.

The boys put up a variety entertainment programme for the guests in the evening. Considering the fact that students had arrived just four days before, they managed to stage a praiseworthy performance. Mr Kate had asked Miss Pannu to help the boys in preparing a Bhangra performance. The convent educated Miss Pannu found herself wanting on account of never even having seen a live Bhangra performance before, but Parminder Nagra (S-1) inspired other boys to come up with a scintillating display and Mahesh Kumar spiced up the performance with his creative vocal interludes (bolis) such as:

Bari barsi khatan gaya si khat ke layande tare

Ajj sade ghar aye, gernel kernel sare

The other memorable item of the evening was an English play “A Fable of Baghdad”. Under the able direction of Mr S C Cowell, the participants comprising Deepak Kapoor (J-2), Provin Jaidka (B-5), Pradip Dhir (B-10), Pritpal Singh(R-1), Jagjit Bedi(J-3) and Surinder Gupta (J-1) came out with flying colours and a self-assured performance.

Below is a description of the evening entertainment as recorded in the Chronicle issue of June 1960.

Mr Cowell is seated last to right in the second row nest to the attendant. Back of the Dias Picture from the Inauguration function of the School.

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Retirement

On 7th December, 1966 after Home Day Lunch, a formal farewell was given to Mr SC Cowell. As it appeared in the chronicle issue of 1967.

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An old picture of Mr SC Cowell.

 A write up by an ex-student on retirement of Mr SC Cowell from the School in the same issue of The Chronicle :

It’s a fresh description of Mr SC Cowell by someone who observed him closely and was impressed by him (written just after retirement).

Mr Cowell with dynamic popular history Teacher Mr YP Bharadwaj,

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What others have said about Mr. Samuel Charles Cowell (SCC),  B.A., T.T.C.

Wedded to The PPS

The grand old man had an unlimited stamina to work. He knew all that was required in a good public school. He laid sound foundation of various systems and practices. Most of us had no knowledge of public-school work. Only Mr. Joginder Singh was a public-school product and Mr. Tankha was an ex-teacher of Modern School, New Delhi. We all observed Mr. Cowell and learned from him. He was a continuous source of inspiration. A dedicated teacher, wedded to PPS (He was a chronic bachelor). Nothing would escape his keen eyes. He made quick decisions and filled every gap. He was a strict disciplinarian and had a heart made of gold. He believed in ‘firm kindness’.

Playing Holi with staff and students. Time to have Fun!

Changing medium of instruction (from Punjabi\Hindi to English) was a herculean job. Mr. Cowell accepted the challenge and went on raising the standard of English of Senior School boys. He, and Mr. Joginder Singh, would not go to sleep without completing the days correcting of exercise books. Rare examples.

Mr. Cowell directed English plays in the early years. On 14th, April ,1960 he staged “Fable of Baghdad” with new raw boys within seven days of their arrival into the school which was well received. On the day of Inauguration of the School by President on 11th April, 1961 he again directed the English play. The highlight of the stage performances on that day were the plays. Hindi play, “kutte ki maut” was directed by Mrs. Kate and English play “The invisible Duke” was very well directed by Mr. Sc Cowell.

Mr. Cowell was very much fond of tea and Indian sweets. He used to drink 60-70 cups of tea every day. He would polish of ten ladoos or half a kilo burfi in five minutes. In spite of being an Englishman, he enjoyed Indian food. He was a father figure for us.

–Mr OP Bhatnagar (Ex-Hindi Teacher, 1960-70)

Mr OP Bhatnagar sketching at a picnic on Rohti canal Rest House.

 

Remembering Samuel Charles Cowell

Along with J.K. Kate, S. C. Cowell was present at it’s creation and gave our school shape and structure in the crucial early years. While Kate dealt with the board of governors, political patrons and parents to make the school a viable educational experiment that thrives to this day, Cowell was responsible for its day-to-day functioning.  Our daily routine from the rouser to lights out was chalked out by him and the senior masters that followed him did not need to change it much.  In the final instance it was this routine – the life we led in our houses, in our classes and in the playing fields – that made us, for better or worse, into public school boys. This was a fortunate division of labor between these two remarkable men.  Kate had the strategic vision and Cowell the tactician freed him from the day-to-day headaches of running the school so that he could focus on the long run.

I know very little about Cowell’s life and Jashanjot Bhangu has asked me to rely on my memory for this piece of writing. Memory we all know can be treacherous, specially, after a lapse of over forty years but still it has some advantages over history and I hope I will be forgiven for any transgressions. The first impression in this palimpsest is of an avuncular figure limping along at a surprisingly brisk pace dressed in a half sleeve bush shirt on a chilly January morning towards the dining hall for morning tea while we shivered in our long sleeve sweaters. There is a faint frown on his face for he is worried about the day ahead of herding his recalcitrant charges from one activity to another. If we were late or were not lined up properly we had to face his wrath and his famous left upper cut.

I doubt if there is anyone in my generation who did not face his upper cut at least once. Most of us were deserving candidates and perhaps some innocents were punished unjustly. Cowell  at times had a short fuse but he was not a petty tyrant though I am sure he would have agreed with Machiavelli’s advice(‘oderint dum metuant’ Accius) to the Prince that, “it is better to be feared than loved’. He never hit anyone for being academically deficient and mostly exploded when we showed what he considered bad form or ungallant behavior like being rude to women teachers. Over time he mellowed down and the infamous visits to the physics lab for caning were phased out. He did not seem much bothered when corporal punishment was banned during Michael Vodden’s tenure as Senior Master. Some lesser teachers used to threaten us that they will teach us a lesson when the ‘white skinned foreigner’ is no longer around. Not he for he had a natural authority which was not grounded in cruelty. I heard him mutter once that Vodden’s experiment was not going to work and he was right. For soon after Vodden left our teachers regressed and I recall one of them hitting some poor sod and taunting him to call for his white skinned savior.

Keeping an strict eye on the NCC performance of Cadets

During Vodden’s tenure corporal punishment was replaced by detentions when we had to copy pages from dictionaries or have our Diwali home weekend taken away which most of us found more onerous than other forms of punishment. My next memory is of one of those weekends when we saw a gentler side of his personality. He made sure we the detainees had good dinners and let us have our fireworks as well. I can’t remember who was responsible for getting an adequate supply but it is likely that he paid for them from his own pocket.

I was often called to his office after some offence or the other. I recall once getting caught reading when we were supposed to be doing something else. I tried to hide my book under the mattress which was a mistake for besides what I was reading he also found a copy of Kama Sutra. He told me that he had no objections to the book but it was meant for married couples or the ones about to get married. Once he found out that I was a ‘reading type’ he asked me what I had read recently besides age-inappropriate books like Kama Sutra. I mentioned Hemingway. He approved but did not think I was justified in calling one of his books a modern classic and I learnt from him what an oxymoron was. He, unlike John Mallon or Michael Vodden who were great teachers in their own way, laid a lot of emphasis on building our vocabulary. At the same time, he insisted that his initials stood for good prose: simple clear and concise. As I write this I feel him hovering over my shoulder. I wonder, have I been too pedantic? Perhaps I should delete the Latin fragment from Accius. I do not know what Cowell read for his own pleasure but I heard his eyes got wet on occasion when he read Noyes’s poem “The Highwayman.”

Overall Cowell was a private person and kept his emotions to himself. I recall his admonition to a student to refrain from ‘vulgar gesticulation’ while explaining something to him. There were occasional flashes of dry wit and humour which have been documented by some of his former students in the ONA ezine. His last day at Nabha was also the last day for my class. I do not recall any special function to say farewell to a man who molded our characters. There was his usual matter of fact talk. He did not need to give us any parting advice for his job was done.

Rest in peace Sam under ‘the jeweled sky’ and I hope you understand my calling you by your first name.

(I am a loyal student at heart and my affiliation is with what Mr. Cowell called “the anti-social gang” of the class of 1966).

Jaspal (R-89,1966 ISC) jaspal.chatha@verizon.net)

Jaspal Chatha (center , R-89,1966) in conversation with Dr Jashanjot (S-52) (right ) while Late Col HS Bajwa (S-25), (left) is looking on. Both Chatha and Bjawa were members of the anti-social gang in school. So called b y Mr Cowell. Jaspal retired a s professor of Economics from Lehmann College , NY, USA.

Did PPS Proud!

Mr Sam Cowell ‘was a legendary teacher who I first encountered in 1953 when I joined The Lawrence School, Sanawar as a young student. I then, found myself as his colleague in The Punjab Public School, Nabha, where I started my teaching career in January 1963! However, he continued to be my teacher and I could not address him any differently. All conversations continued to be interspersed with, “Yes or no sir!”

Mr Samuel Charles Cowell, an English teacher and housemaster, soon after he retired from Sanawar, was requested by Mr Kate, an erstwhile teacher and the phenomenal Bursar at Sanawar, to join him in the Herculean task of starting a brand-new school from scratch at Nabha and help him set the ground rules and standards. Mr Cowell complied and willingly gave a helping hand to his former colleague Mr. Kate. Mr Cowell had rightly earned the reputation of being a strict disciplinarian at Sanawar and he was given the task of choosing an exemplary faculty and staff for PPS and to share ideas in several aspects, for the smooth running of the school. These he did with alacrity and success.

My earliest memories of Mr. Cowell are of his bright yellow house, near the BD in Sanawar, where he lived with his mother who must have retired from her job at the school. He was a portly figure, to my young mind, bespectacled with thick greying hair, a double chin and a stern expression until it broke into a smile. His black cocker spaniel, Wendy, if I recall her name correctly, was an inseparable part of him, and padded along by her master’s side for a lot of the day!

Mr Cowell, in his blazer and flannel trousers, was a ubiquitous presence and taught in addition to helping to maintain a high standard of discipline and courtesy. He was punctilious about our singing the National Anthem in exactly 52 seconds which he clocked in with a stop watch! We practiced once a week every Assembly before singing it each Friday morning and felt very pleased when he would look up over the top of his spectacles and say, with an expressionless face, “Fifty-two seconds!” before breaking into a smile of pleasure!

Mr. Cowell had a great sense of humour, but one needed two prerequisites to understand it. One was, a good command over English and the second was, enjoying sarcasm without taking it amiss. His jokes were said tongue in cheek and you could see the twinkle in his eye as he thought of a clever way of getting a message across humorously! He didn’t wish to intimidate his students and had a very kind heart. He kept in touch with generations of his pupils and was often invited by their families in the vacations. I clearly remember his coming home to tea on one of his visits to Kashmir. The words “Hmm.., I love your baking, Mrs Kak,” ring clearly in my ears and I can see dear Mr Cowell’s smiling face as he reached out for another of my mother’s delicious ginger biscuits!

Mr Cowell belonged to a dedicated and punctilious generation of teachers who devoted their lives to producing well rounded students. Those who were lucky enough to pass through his hands certainly gained a good understanding of English from Shakespeare to essay writing and, equally importantly, were held to a high standard of etiquette. He did The PPS proud!

LILA KAK BHAN (Ex-Teacher ,Junior School)

A picture of teaching pillars of the 1960s who made the reputation of school. Miss Lila Kak  later Bhan is on extreme right among ladies in the first row standing . Mr SC Cowell is seated on right of the Headmaster , Mr JK Kate in the center.

Mr S.C. Cowell- An Immortal Soul

  • I had studied in KG Ajmer a boarding school for about two years prior to joining Sainik School Nabha in May 1960 in class VIII. My background gave me an added advantage over my colleagues.
  • We were the senior most class and were given additional responsibility. Infact, because of my schooling and ability to communicate in English, I somehow became translator to my friends, who achieved laurels for themselves and the alma mater in days to come. To be frank with you some of our Stalwarts use to cry as initially neither could communicate nor at time understood what Mr. Cowell also fondly called Baba Ji had said to them.
  • Cowell insisted that everyone in school will only communicate in English irrespective of the location. Due to total dedication of Mr. Cowell, slowly over a period, the barriers were broken and all my classmates excelled in the English Language.
  • I, because of my background disciplined conduct and ability to communicate at that time in broken English became his favourite.
  • Now, I will share with you feeling and observations about Mr. Cowell.
  • He was a man of taste. Whatever he possessed was of high order. He never compromised on quality, He was immaculately dressed and never compromised in our dress code. In fact, he inculcated in us the pride a person should take in his attire.
  • He was a man of integrity and Principles, who never  hesitated to point out omission in direct or discreet manner depending on the situation. He taught us how to draw that thin line in our off and on parade conduct. When in class or during the school activity, he was a strict person. However, off parade he was always in smiling disposition as  also would share jokes with us.
  • He also taught us and me in particular that officially functioning of any man should never affect the personal life.
  • You all would be surprised to note that although I was his favourite student, but when it came to English as a subject, I never got passing marks i.e. 40. It would be less than 40 marks. Now this act of his initially, did upset me. However , in the long run it made me realise that personal relationship should not be a factor when it came to assessment, passing of judgement on to known person. We have to remain impartial and your personal relationship should not interfere in functioning of official duty.
  • Cowell had a very sharp eye and ear. He was a godly person. During the assembly he would identify tone deaf or student totally out of tune standing at the Assembly Dias itself. Thereafter he wobbled from row to row, thumped the chest of the students who were out of tune and signalled them to keep shut.
  • He had created such an aura of fear that when he walked through corridor the students would signal the arrival of Baba Ji and all activates would come to stand still and there would be pin drop silence.
  • Volume of liars thieves and scoundrel is a well-known document of Mr. Cowell. A list of all defaulters over the weekend would be prepared and also the punishment would be given depending upon  the offence committed.
  • He was indeed a lonely man seeking for true and healthy relationship. He often visited me in Nabha, But that never helped me in securing passing marks in English.
  • His aim was to inculcate total self disciplined life in all of us. He totally trusted each one of us. However, during April 1964 we the students of the most senior class betrayed him by bunking at night to see a movie at Nabha Theatre.  May be it would have gone unnoticed, had we not encountered Mr Tandon who was sitting in the last row. Although Mr. Tandon had said that he would not share this incident with anyone but we, specially me, felt guilty conscious.
  • Next day morning I along with few of my classmate went over to Mr. Cowell office. He without hearing us told us to go back to the class room. It was an indication that our visit to Cinema Hall is no more a secret.
  • Thereafter, Mr. Cowell came to our class room and said, “you all have betrayed the faith I had in you. I have been your class teacher for last 4 years and this is what you all give me in return.” He started weeping and we all joined him. It was indeed an emotional scene. It was followed by pep talk by Mr. Kate and genuine tears flowed to one and all.
  • This incident made most of us to take a resolve never to betray the faith entrusted by anyone. It did make me a strong man.
  • Like I said earlier he was always seeking company and was true friend. I enjoyed having pastry and coffee at Wangers in Delhi, during the school days and his company in Jammu where I was posted in Seventies. To me he was totally a family man and a fatherly figure.  I will always remain grateful to him for inculcating traits which have paid me handsomely during my service and even in my retired life.  May God bless his soul.

-Major General Sureshwar Tiwari (J-34,1964). (Mr SC Cowell was House master of Jumna and had great affinity for Sureshwar.)

Escorting Minister Yash of Punjab in 1963 during guard of Honour.

Strict Disciplinarian!

Regarding Mr Cowell I remember him as a strict disciplinarian, who believed in the rule of the stick. Any rule breaking was followed by caning. He would ask each student to bend forwards, and give five canes. He had a diary named VOLTAS (which was abbreviation for Volume of Liars Thieves and Scoundrels). That names of all the trouble mongers were noted in that. Some of the frequent entries were my classmates Hardev Bajwa (S-25), Manjit Saraon (J-94,1966), Jaspal Chatha (R-89)and Mulkjit Singh (S-54) all of 1966 batch.

Entrants in Voltas were not allowed to see the Saturday movie and had to perform frog jumps with two bricks in hand during that period. I remember during floods in July 1960 we were shifted to Junior School. Mr Cowell would walk into each of the dormitories shouting ’Out of the bed’ and everybody would jump out of the bed to avoid the caning. His voice could be heard from quite a distance.

I remember while preparing for President’s visit in 1961, he was preparing the team for singing The School Song’. He made all of us stand in a line and listened to voice of each of us and thumped the chest of those students who did not sing well to move out of the line.

He was very particular about physical training and running for students. He was always around everywhere and students would try to avoid his path. He would have his meals with students and initiated the prayers before and after meals. He would always have barbecue chicken leg and boiled vegetables for himself. It was his training and scolding which moulded us into responsible citizens.

Parampal Coonar (S-22,1966)

A picture of pioneer School staff of early 1960s (1963?)

Mr Cowell and his VOLTAS dairy.

Every movie night after super in the dining hall he would stand and all students with scared eyes and thumping hearts would listen to the names he would read and state that these students will go to the assembly hall as they had 3 violations, as punishment they would miss the movie and sit silently in the assembly hall.

I for one did serve one such detention.

Harikirtan Singh (S-24,1967 H SC)

Harikirtan Singh (S-24,1967- Hr.Sc.) on extreme left with Hr. Sec .class friends of 1967 March

Strict and Compassionate

Mr Cowell joined the school at the time, when it opened. He had been in the education field all his life and shifted many schools before he joined us. His last School was BCS, Simla before that he served for a long time in The Lawrence School, Sanawar.

He was from the old guard who were strict disciplinarians and yet compassionate in outlook. For obvious reasons he taught English which was preserve of few. The style of teaching was comprehensive, in that he took language as a whole and worked on every aspect of it from reading, speaking, grammar and pronunciation. His students can recount till today the difference between words starting with ‘V’ and ‘W’, on how the first is pronounced with biting the lower lip, while the latter starts with making a tunnel with both lips.

Even in off hours if someone made a mistake, his name would go down in his VOLTAS diary, which was referred to as a ‘Volume of Liars, Thieves and Scoundrels’. It was an established norm that once your name was recorded in the diary, you were to report automatically in the physics lab at 6 pm, which usually meant cuts across the open palm with a scale. He had his own system of deciding the number of hits based on the severity of each offence. This punishment was gradually phased out by him.

A very compassionate man, he adopted Balbir Yadav (J-14), who was an orphan, and looked after him like his son. In fact, he gave away everything he had to his students, and after retirement, he did not have any thing in his credit. He stayed for short periods with his students, till he died. I was fortunate that he counted me in as one who would respect and accommodate him. He was staying with an RVC officer, Colonel Ahlawat, at Hempur, who had been his student. From there, he came to me in Bareilly, in 1975. Stayed for a few days only and then moved on. That was how he lived the last of his days.

A legend, who would never be forgotten, by any student, who met him.

Lt Gen BPS Mander (J-38, 1964)

Lt. Gen BPS Mander, (Retd.)

Listened to and Respected

As far as I think Mr. S C Cowell was the right-hand man of The Headmaster Mr. J K Kate in setting up the foundations of The PPS in the 60’s.

He was a strict disciplinarian and ingrained good and clean habits amongst the boarders. He taught English as a subject in School. He was the housemaster of Jumna for some time before becoming the Senior Master.

Although he walked with a limp to go about his daily routines around the school, he used to personally stand by and cheer up the players along the field.

In the formative years of the school, there were only 120 boys to start with, 30 in each of the four houses. He personally checked that each boys’ hair was cut so short that one could not grip the same with fingers. As a Senior Master, he maintained a black diary titled VOLTAS which expanded to “Volume Of Liars Thieves & Scoundrels”. Depending upon their degree of indiscipline, the guilty ones were made to do different chores like standing guard outside his office for a limited time. Worst punishment given was missing the Saturday movie in the Junior School.

He was listened to and respected by rest of the school staff during his time. He groomed and encouraged the students to improve upon the English language skills.

After leaving ‘The PPS’, he was one of the founders of The Guru Nanak Fifth Centenary School in Mussoorie.

During summer vacations of the school, he used to stay with some of his favourite Sanawarians and later on with The PPS students. He used to drink a lot of tea kept in a thermos flask nearby in his office. In the evenings he used to relax in his quarters on the first floor. At the same time, he would call one of his favourite students for a tête-à-tête.

Vijay Plaha (J-51,1965)

Mr SC Cowell with ISC class of 1965. Vijay Plaha is sitting on the extreme left.

Passionate ! 

Mr SC Cowell dedicated his entire life in grooming students of two leading Public Schools that is Lawrence School Sanawar and PPS Nabha. He remained a bachelor throughout his life because of his passion of shaping students as outstanding leaders in various fields and also churning out responsible citizens. Inculcating disciplined habits in young minds was a top priority for him.

Mr JK Kate our founding headmaster brought him from Sanawar knowing well that he would be a great asset in the teething years of a new residential school.  I remember when my father enquired about my performance in the school, he did not comment on my academics but remarked that he often found my shoe laces open. He could observe minutely and easily point out the right faults of the students. Mr Cowell was slightly short tempered and would not hesitate awarding severe corporal punishment to the guilty.

I was always on his radar due to my frequent mischiefs. Once his office as a Senior Master was ransacked and ink split all over. I was the chief suspect and was badly thrashed by him. However, later I went to his office and frankly told him this particular offence had not been committed by me. He thereafter, realised his mistake and warmly hugged me.  Mr Cowell was strict to the core but at the same time also full of compassion.

He would call spade a spade with no hesitation, his famous words to our group that “you Sandhu , Bajwa , Saraon, Chatha and Mann are the worst offenders in the school” still ring in my ears. Mr Cowell would often repeat these words as the most mischievous lot was our group of 1966 batch. Lastly the famous after dinner caning of the guilty in the Physics Lab was an indication of disciplining the students, even if it was the hard way.

Col Mulakjeet Singh (S-54,1966)

Mulakjeet Singh (S-54,) is seated second from right in this picture of 1966 ISC Class.

A later picture during army service as Lt..Col.

Mr Cowell despite age and physical size and handicap took active part in every activity. Here is at the finishing line of the athletic track writing observations in mid row.

 

Mr. Samuel Charles Cowell (Simple, Clear and Concise)

Amongst the first members of the PPS senior staff, I encountered on entering the Senior School on a cold day in January,1963 was Mr Samuel Charles Cowell, a British/Anglo-Indian educationist who taught in Indian Public Schools. He was following  a family tradition – his mother had retired from the Lawrence School , Sanawar as a Matron and his brother had reportedly given instruction at Bishop Cotton School (BCS), Shimla. Mr Cowell, too, came to PPS after teaching both at Sanawar and BCS.

To the unaccustomed eye of us young students ,he seemed larger than life with a ponderous belly atop which his trousers remained miraculously perched. He had a matching large  florid face with a pronounced double chin. He had thick grey hair and wore very thick glasses which shielded a most piercing and observant set of eyes. He walked with a slight limp all over the campus , often with surprisingly alarming speed. He was generally preceded by his pet Spaniel Wendy, literally announcing his arrival and a warning for the mischievous.

He came to PPS to assist his friend, Mr J K Kate ,a former Sanawar Bursar to kick start the new School (then The Sainik School, Nabha) in the aristocratic environs of the Secretariat and the Royal Guest House of the Maharaja of Nabha, where Mr Kate had been appointed as the first Headmaster. He did a marvellous job of it. In no time he had turned the boys, many of whom came from the rural areas and small towns of Punjab into a disciplined lot and toeing the general line drawn by him – conversation only in English , smart turn-out at all times, punctuality and high levels of personal hygiene . None dared to fall out of line. He assiduously pursued the old school dictum of ‘Spare the rod…’Any infringement of his ‘rules’ was followed immediately by commensurate quantum of approbation by caning, cuts of a scale on the hand,  the trusted and tried “whacks” of a very strong hand !!, missing the Saturday movie, extra P.T. or having to eat a meal that you did not like.  But we were in agreement that his punishments were quite proportionate to the crime committed.

It was not long before he introduced us ,with a twinkle in his eye, to his infamous and quite dreaded  VOLTAS notebook. The acronym (I’m sure much to the chagrin of the TATAs) was expanded by Mr Cowell as the  “ Volume Of Liars, Thieves and Slackers (sometimes converted to Scoundrels)”.The most dreaded punishment for us movie buffs was to be kept away from the Saturday movie.

It is no exaggeration that the boys  avoided crossing his path ,not knowing for what invisible misdemeanour they may be hauled up by him ! In spite of his thick prescription glasses, he could identify any child from a hundred feet away. One loud shout from him would make them freeze or , in rare cases, run for their lives. It was at times like these that Wendy came to the rescue of many by suddenly appearing in their sight, they knew that her master would not be far behind ! In addition, he was called ‘baba’ by the boys among themselves. The whisper went around when he was approaching “baba aa reha hai” (baba is coming). Or “don’t go that side baba is standing there”. The boys were in real awe of him.

He was very particular about turn out of boys. Nails cut, hair short, handkerchief in pocket. Neat dress, all buttons intact (visible and invisible in the trousers), shoes well-polished and shining. It’s is no wonder, that if you meet a student of that vintage, he will be well turned out.

He was very strict but he did not hate the wrongdoers. Mr Cowell was most fair in assessing a delinquent’s misdemeanour and meting out proportionate punishment. The episode over, he would forget about it till it was repeated. He bore no ill will toward anyone. He was even kind to students. He was single minded in making gentlemen out of the children. His students will vouch for how his methods though sometimes harsh, helped them become better persons in life.

He was an excellent teacher and taught my class, English Literature. One cannot forget the way he taught Shakespeare . He would explain each word, each sentence in great depth ,linking them clearly  to the language of their origin ,whether it be Latin or Greek or Roman, and the context in which  their usage was required. It was no wonder that progress was usually so slow that in one period he might just cover one para or even one stanza. It was dinned so deep in our memories that I still recall much of Julius Caesar by heart.

Like a good teacher, Mr Cowell was very industrious. He would often give us homework, take our exercise books home and bring them back after making corrections in red ink. Many a time , my impression that I had done well was quickly dispelled when my exercise book was returned with red markings all over! Sometimes I dreaded opening my exercise book after corrections. He corrected all notebooks same day and handed them back to students next day. He was very diligent in his work. Being Senior Master, he enforced this on other teachers too. It helped a great deal in raising the standard of School. He never got angry if a student did not understand, he instead, went to great lengths to explain himself better. Though, I was not very good at English Literature, I managed to get respectable grades in it, in my ISC exams, thanks to his teaching. I still remember his advice on writing prose with the comment, ”My initials stand for Simple, Clear and Concise (SCC)”.

He would play the piano with ease during the Morning Assembly and taught us the morning prayer songs, and the School Song with patient expertise. He even made us sing the School Song as it had been put to tune by principal Terry of Thapar Polytechnic (written by Mr Michael Vodden of course).   I still remember him trying to get us to sing in tune by repeating ‘laaaa…..’ in different notes. He had an ear of a musician and could pick up a boy in a group who was not in synch. He also had a vast collection of western classical music and played many of his records before actual Assembly. Thanks to him, I must have heard most of Beethoven’s symphonies in School.

Mr Cowell was above all famous for his wit and humour. I have shared this even with his students from Sanawar. He had the talent to deliver a punchline with tongue in cheek, while his face was expression less. He often held the audience in splits when he was on stage. Even while teaching he would slip in a comment that made everyone laugh. It made the subject interesting. To understand his humour, one had to understand the English language and how he played subtle with words and the sarcasm in his sentence. Once while reading Antony’s speech, he went, “Friends, Romans and countrymen lend me your ears” (with stress) followed quietly by “for I have lost mine”. The class burst into laughter.

Another time during the staging of the witches’ scene from the play Macbeth by Kendalls’ Shakespearana company in school, the children were confused by the three witches talking among themselves.  Mr. Cowell came on stage during the break, congratulated the actors , looked at the audience and with poker face asked seriously “Which witch was which?” There was a roar of laughter. He was at his best while conducting debates etc. where his comments were full of subtle humour.

Another incident which I clearly recall involved the late Col Hardev Bajwa  (S- 25) ,a bright and spirited all-rounder. He was a consistent topper in his class, but was equally a compulsive breaker of rules. He was in the august company of like-minded boys like Jaspal Chattha( R 89),Manjit Saraon (J 94),Charanjeev Aulakh (R 108) and Mulkjit Singh ( S 54), all of A section of the 1966 ISC batch. They were bright but figured perpetually in VOLTAS and were often dubbed by Mr Cowell as the ‘Anti-Social Gang’. One day, Mr Cowell cornered Hardev in the foyer and said to him “ Hardev, with your genius, you could become the Prime Minister of India, but I think with your habits, you will end up in jail!”. Both are no more, and possibly sharing their earthly encounters in the Heavens above…..

I remember Mr SC Cowell (Ex-Senior Master) on ce saying, “You are fooling the public by saying you are from a Public School.”  It was a comment on behaviour of some students, as Public schools groom gentlemen and not rowdies.

What he did for the School was a sincere effort to keep all students in line. He was a completely different persona outside of School and on holidays. I am told that the best was when someone spent holidays or free time with him .He was a happy and jovial man full of affection and compassion. He even played hide and seek with small children. He was very generous and gave away all his possessions to others. The Kates were the fortunate recipients of his mother’s English crockery as a personal gift.

After his long and eventful stint in PPS, he moved to Dehradun and taught in Col Brown’s School. As with all great humans ,he didn’t really pass on, he just withered away. Despite the seemingly rough treatment meted out to them, his old students loved him because he made real men out of them. It is ,thus , no surprise that his last years were spent living with an Old Nabhaite or Old Sanawarian , as he had no family of his own at that stage .He was welcomed warmly  in their home. That his students still speak of him with respect speaks volumes about his immortality as a teacher and a mentor!

Dr Jashanjot Singh Bhangu (S-52,1967)

Dr Jashanjot (S-52) at an ONA Meeting  

Memories of a great Senior Master

 Mr. Cowell was Senior Master and earlier Jumna House Master, when I joined. He taught us English for a limited period, giving way to Mr. Joginder Singh. Thereafter, Mr. Vodden and Mr. Sibal. My memory of him is limited to

(a) his whopping slaps

(b) his Spaniel, I think named Wendy, which preceded him everywhere and thus gave us a warning about his imminent arrival! and

(c) VOLTAS !

Gurinder Dhanoa (S-9,1964)

Picture is self explanatory. Gen Rodrigues Governor of Punjab is the Chief guest.

Teaching in and out of the Class.

Probably one of the first teachers to join the school was Mr. Cowell. He was the second senior master and we were terrified of him when we came to Senior School. He was a strict disciplinarian. Quite a few Jumna House boys would vouch for that.

He always wore rubber soled shoes so we couldn’t hear him when he came on his rounds. On one April Fool’s Day the boys in my class decided to play a prank on him. We were in class 9. We placed a tumbler of water on top of a lot of books and placed it over the front door, and waited anxiously for him. During prep we kept stealing glances at the door hoping he would walk in. Walk in he did, but through the back door! We were learning Mark Antony’s speech after that for a long time.

In the class room he was completely different and an excellent teacher. He was very diligent and thorough and we learnt good English from him He taught us inside the class room as well as outside. I can never forget how he corrected our notebooks in red ink. No mistake was overlooked however small.

He had a unique way of teaching. I remember one afternoon the first bell for prep had already rung and I was in the school library. According to the rules, you had to be in your seat by the second bell. I ran from the school library, dashed down the wooden stairs, cut across the visitor’s room, and almost banged into Mr. Cowell. “What were you doing just now? What did you do just now?” He asked me again.
There goes, I thought to myself. I’m going to get punished now.
“It begins with d” He said.
‘Diversion’ I said.
Another word beginning with ‘d’.
He let me go only when he elicited ‘detour.’ from me. Can I ever forget!
I still use his methods when I teach.

Jyoti Kate (R-52,1967) daughter of Mr JK Kate

Jyoti Kate d/o Mr JK Kate. Picture of a Hindi kavi sammelan enacted on stage. She is acting as a female poet.

Everlasting Memory

There is also the everlasting memory of Mr Samuel Cowell (Baba) who taught us Shakespeare – Macbeth. Both Yogesh Chadha (R-69) and me either read novels during his long monologues or dozed. He was most frustrated that even though he caught me nodding off several times, I was always able to answer his questions. He then decided that I was able to “… sleep with my eyes open…” . The result was extra PT on the slightest excuse – frog jumping outside the Auditorium.

I did Meet Mr Cowell once in Delhi outside 10 Janpath several years later. He was with some Nabhaite who was dropping him somewhere on his scooter.

Vikram Kuriyan (J-120,1968)

Vikram Kuriyan is in the back row prominently seen to the right of two boys with turban. Jumna house with Athletics trophy (1968)

Playing with fire
I remember when we were in class 8 (1964) doing our Prep (I think that’s what we called homework time then), Two boys from our class (I remember the names but shall not mention, they may take offense) got a match box and started burning the paper in the rubbish bin, resulting in a small bonfire in the class and we all got excited. The boys in our class were not stupid. They told Jyoti (R-52, 1967) and me to keep a watch at the door pretending to sharpen our pencil as Mr. Cowell was on duty and he used to wear shoes with rubber soles, which were very silent.

Suddenly, I saw Mr. Cowell turning around the corner and heading towards our class. Oh God!  How scared we were. Guess what the boys did? They put the rubbish bin along with the bonfire into one of their wooden desks. You should have seen our speed. By the time he entered our class we were all seated on our seats with pin drop silence in the class. Luckily for us he looked around and left our class. When I think about this incident, I still wonder what would have happened if he had stayed a little longer and  the wooden desk  had caught fire!!!!!

 Basanti Sathu (Mathu) (R-73, 1967 ISC batch)

 

Basanti (R-73,1967) is econd from right

 

Sound Foundation

The thing that strikes one the most about one’s stay in the School was the outstanding level of dedication of the staff. Each left an indelible mark on one’s young and impressionable mind. Heading the list would always be Mr. Sam Cowell, who I probably feel contributed the most to our generation of students by laying a very sound foundation based on principles, ethos, traditions and honour code.

Admiral Jaggi Bedi (J-2, 1963)

Admiral JS Bedi (J-3, 1964)

 Ear for music

A new and recent pleasure has been receiving the newsletters from the immensely successful former student association, run by people like Dr Jashanjot Singh Bhangu.  The obvious enthusiasm and evidence of the huge success of the School, and the reminiscences of old Nabhaites brought back my own memories of ‘65 -68’:  of Sam Cowell, who used to dine with us frequently to listen to Bach and our music collection,

From a letter by  the Scot Mr John Mallon (Ex-English Teacher from British Council 1965-68)

Late Mr John Mallon , British Council Teacher (1965-1968) Head of English.

 

Memorable Punishment!

BUT THE PUNISHMENT THAT TAKES THE CAKE: Was being pulled up by the Senior Master and my House master then (Jumna) Mr. S.C. Cowell! It was the second term then (August) and Swimming Pool Time! Do not know / (cannot recollect for what – there were so, oh so many occasions for that!) for what specific fault.  He finally asked me if I went to the Swimming Pool as a Life Guard.  The answer being in the affirmative,  he asked me to do my duty as a life guard! BUT….  Not to enter the pool unless it was a LIFE AND DEATH situation!!! NO SWIMMING FOR ME!!!  ALL THAT WATER EVERYWHERE  n NOT A DROP TO SWIM IN!!!

Late Rajiv Joshi (J-102, 1967) , (Another naughty boy, From his article “Types of punishments”)

Rajiv Joshi (J-102, 1967) sitting in front with hat in farewell fancy dress party of 1967.

Preparing for the school Inauguration ,1961

One morning the H.M. came to take me to the Senior School for morning assembly.  I was asked to select assembly songs, which I did and compiled them for the school Prayer Book.  It had English, Hindi, Urdu, Sanskrit and Punjabi hymns.  I was supposed to compose the tunes and this was done with the help of Mr SC Cowell, Head of English Department.

KC Tandon (Ex-Music teacher)

Mr Johri,second from left with Mr Sibal, Mr Tandon ,Mr Bharadwaj,and David Goldberg teachers in 1960s

 

Responsible for Discipline and English

I learnt English from Mr Samuel Charles Cowell and Mr John Mallon. Mr Cowell was the Senior Master in school those days. He was a very strict disciplinarian with a strong will and was a nightmare for the errant school boy. He was quick to dispense “frog marching around the quadrangle” if he found you out of order. He was the pillar that the school discipline was built on. The boys referred to him as “babba” and some as “buddha babba” as he had a shock of grey hair which he kept closely cropped, a little in the style of the school haircut that was prescribed for all the non-Sikhs. It was not unusual for a prefect to warn a boy that getting out of line to remember as to what might happen when “babba” found out – “tu vakhein, Babbey nu pata chale gaya tey tu vahkhein.”

To continue with English, Mr. Cowell emphasised building a strong and powerful vocabulary. He said that a word was in your vocabulary only if you could pronounce it, spell it, knew the meaning and could use it in a sentence. He used to walk in to class each day and ask us what new words we had picked up from our reading since the last class.  He would list them on the black board and take us through the steps of pronunciation, spelling, the meaning and building sentences. He would then make us write down the words in small pocket-sized notebooks that had been issued to us from the school stationery. We had divided the pages alphabetically and noted the words on the appropriate pages. The normal class began only after this ritual. Often Mr. Cowell picked up words from the morning assembly from what Mr. Kate had said or one of the prayers. If Mr. Kate was away or busy then it was Mr. Cowell who held the assembly.  I get the impression from the web site that the school still lays a lot emphasis on building a good vocabulary. I thought the present generation might like to know the genesis of the practice and the debt we all owe to Mr. Cowell. He was very instrumental in my ability with the language.

Ashok Balwani (R 90,1966).

 

Each teacher gave individual attention to each student. Mr JK Kate, Mr Joginder Singh, Mr SC Cowell, Mrs Lyall, Dr Surjeet Singh Bedi, Mr GS Punia, Mr MN Tankha, Mr PN Mathu, Mr OP Sharma, OP Bhatnagar, Mr KC Tandon, Mrs K Tandon, Mr M Vodden, Mr Mial, Mr Chatterjee, Mr Johri. They were more like lifelong friends, philosophers and guides. I really don’t remember what we were taught in classes but I distinctly remember what we were taught outside the class.

Mr Cowell: walk in twos, in step and no talking.

VOLTAS Diary: Volume of Liars, Thieves and Scoundrels (luckily, I never got a mention in it!).

Capt A S Sidhu (S-11, 1960-1965)

 

 For our good!

There are times that the Harry Potter movies remind me of PPS .We had our own Magic. We had strict teachers like Mr. Cowell. Mr. Cowell was too strict, although sometimes for our good.

From an email  by  Dr Vineet Mehta (J72-1967 )   October 2008

 

Imprinted in our genes!

The sense of discipline inculcated by Mr. Cowell has got imprinted in our genes to the extent that even now I wake up at 5 am and sleep at about 9 pm!!

Dr. Satish Jain (R-107,1970)

 

Fond Reminisces

He was a sticker for discipline and it is because of him that PPS gradually grew in its reputation and status and today is rated as one of the best schools, not only in the country but in the world. He was also a very kind man. I was fortunate to have a very good relationship with him. I loved getting him soft calf leather shoes especially designed and made in our factory in Calcutta. When I was doing my pre medicals at Hans Raj College, in Delhi, he especially called me to a sumptuous tea at one of his favourite restaurants in Connaught place,(I forget the name) It was a very emotional evening and I till date very fondly reminisce that evening. God bless his soul. RIP Sir, till we meet again.

Narinder Kohli (Head boy, 1966) on Mr. SC Cowell

Narinder Kohli(B-79,1966) is to right of Mr John Mallon.

Get married in the holidays!

I met Mr Cowell in 1963 when I joined PPS. Though initially I did not interact with him much as he was very busy in his day to night routine of teaching, looking after the welfare of students, preparing for the next day’s lessons for the students, etc. Sometimes he would ask me to type a few pages of his lesson plans. He would write in his own hand the most legible text. I wish I could have saved some of his writings. Slowly we got to know each other and became good friends. Since his living arrangements were right next to my office it was normal to have a little chat over a cup of tea and cookies. His fondness for all things sweet were a talk of the school campus. If he were invited for tea at a teacher’s house the tea must accompany plenty of sweets. In spite of being diabetic he managed his life very well.

A disciplinarian as well as a dedicated teacher one could not fool Mr Cowell. He was one of the early risers and made sure the students were up bright and early. His daily routine before the start of the classes was to make sure that the students were dressed well, shoes polished, and their nails cut.

Mr Cowell was liked and respected by the staff and students alike. His subtle sense of humor was something to write home about. I vividly remember when he was an MC during a staff play and his monologue, prologue, and epilogue were so hilarious that it cracked us up days on end.

Being a great teacher, administrator, it was hard for the school to see him retire when he attained the retirement age. Mr Kate approached the Board to grant Mr Cowell an extension for an extra year. At the Board meeting the Governor asked Mr Kate only one question: if Mr Cowell was indispensable and Mr replied with an affirmative “Yes”. Exception was made and Mr Cowell stayed on for an extra year.

Mr Cowell was a firm believer that the teachers must dedicate themselves for the cause of students. He will frown upon if a teacher would ask for a day off to attend a wedding or other  events. He even insisted that if a teacher wanted to get married he should marry during the holidays.

I had a chance to visit him in Dehradun. What a great host he was. He took me out to a very fancy restaurant for dinner. No surprise here, all the waiters knew him very well as he frequented that place. When I met him over tea, he treated me to some delicious ginger cookies. I took a great fancy to these cookies and each month he would send me a small batch and I in return would send him Horlicks which he missed tremendously.

Pushap Raj (PA to Mr. JK Kate the Headmaster, who saw Mr. Cowell from close, officially and personally) .

Gen JN Chaudhary being introduced to staff by Mr.JK Kate Mr Pushapraj is looking on second from right. _________________________________________________________________________________________________

A Measure of immortality

(An article by Dr. Harishpal Singh Dhillon, PH.D, Headmaster, The YPS ,Mohali on the immortal sense of Humour of Late SC Cowell ,Ex Senior Master .PPS which appeared in The Tribune as a middle) 

What is the measure of immortality? I do not mean the Teresas. The Tendulkars, the Bahugunas, the Hussains. The Subhalakshmis, the Oshos, the Bachhans and the Vikram Seths of this world- their immortality is immeasurable. I mean the ordinary people, like me, the school teachers, the railway clerks and writers of the middles, who lead ordinary humdrum lives, with no special talents, no special calling, no special passion. People whose sole achievement is making both ends meet, giving their families a comfortable life, bringing up their children as decent human beings and saving enough for their retirement to be spared the indignity of seeking financial help. Is there a measure of immortality to our lives or do we fade quickly away as soon as our funeral ceremonies are over? This question had haunted and troubled me with increasing frequency in recent years. Then I found my answer four days ago.

There were three of us at Lunch. Norman, who had studied at Sanawar in the thirties, I, who had been at Sanawar in the fifties and Jashanjot, who had studied at PPS, Nabha.in the sixties. The conversation veered around to the recent change of Principal at PPS. Jashanjot bemoaned the decline of discipline.

“How I wish Mr. Cowell was back, it would all be sorted out in no time”. Both Norman and I remembered Sammy Cowell too. He had been a teacher and then Senior Master in Sanawar  before moving on to PPS. From his awesome reputation as a disciplinarian, we moved to his sense of humour.

Norman remembered  a 1936 report which read “Norman works in fits and starts. Unfortunately, at the time of the exams he failed to have either a fit or a start”

I remembered an August mark—reading in 1954.I was never good at anything in school but did, sometimes when Mr. Cowell pushed too hard, achieve a good academic result. He opened the register for Upper IV A. “First Harishpal Singh Dhillon “. He paused and looked out of the window for a long moment at the steady downpour outside, then turned back to look at the children and added in a soft ,but clear voice that carried to the back of the hall ”Hence the rain”.

Jashanjot remembered an incident from 1966.The Kendalls , with their Shakespearean troupe, would visit all the major schools of India and stage plays ,mostly Shakespeare. By the sixties they limited themselves to playing an assortment of scenes ,rather than full length plays. After one such performance at PPS, which had featured , amongst others, the witches scene from “Macbeth”, Mr. Cowell  came onstage congratulated the actors on a fine performance and turning to the student audience asked “which witch was which?”

Almost 25years after his death, three individuals had come together purely by accident, and shared memories of him which spanned 40years.It was a fair measure of immortality. I had found my answer and was content.

The History Teacher who was a Role Model, Mr Yashpal Bharadwaj

The History Teacher who was a Role Model

Mr. Yash Pal Bhardwaj (1935-2021)

Dr. Jashanjot Singh (S-52,1967)

Mr. Yash Pal Bhardwaj (popularly known and remembered as ‘YPB’) was born on July 9, 1935 (in South Africa, according to Mr. OP Bhatnagar, his close friend and ex-teacher). After schooling from Birla School, Delhi, he did his BA and MA from the coveted St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University, in 1956 and 1958 respectively. In 1960 he did his Bachelors in Education from Central Institute of Education, Delhi.

Thereafter, he joined The Punjab Public School, Nabha on May 10, 1960. The  great Headmaster of the School, Mr. JK Kate, Padma Shri, selected him not only because of his academic qualifications but also for his wonderful personality and his sporting background which was a huge asset to the School and its students.

He was in the league of the great founding teachers of the School considered the ‘Pillars’, on whose shoulders the school gained strength and all India fame, being counted as one of the best Public Schools, within a span of a few years.

In League with “The Pillars” of The PPS of Founding Years in 1960s. YPB is seated second from left. Invaluable all of them, in their own right. The staff seating was in order of seniority in School. Here, YPB is sitting in august company of the legends like Mr. SC Cowell, Senior Master fourth from left to right, Mr. JK Kate the ‘Great Headmaster’, Mr. Michael Vodden the British Council Teacher and Head of English who wrote the School Song, Miss GB Malkani, mother like legendary  head of Junior School, Mr. MN Tankha the great executor of many events in school and right hand of Mr. Kate at the start of the School.

Great friends of 1965-66, from left YP Bhardwaj, YP Johri, R. Sibal, KC Tandon and David Goldberg (US peace corps). They had regular ‘Bridge sessions’ of cards.

The members of a great team of teachers. From left YP Bhardwaj, YP Johri,  OP Bhatnagar and PN Mathu.

On October 16, 1960, YPB organised and conducted the first ever GK Quiz in the School. On October 23, he launched the History Society of the School.

Not only was he a great teacher of history and House master of Jumna House but also a great sportsman who had huge effect on the students by his own performance on the field. On 5th Feb, 1961, the school team including Mr. MS Bhatnagar and Mr. YP Bhardwaj (both Ranji trophy players) played a cricket match against Ripudaman College and won by 24 runs. On 22nd May, 1961, the School team (comprising six boys and five staff) played a hockey match against the local army unit, the famous Scinde Horse. Mr. Bhardwaj spearheaded the attack and we won 3-2.

While at school he represented Southern Punjab in Ranji cricket against Delhi at Patiala. To the delight of the group of his students who went to watch the match, their beloved teacher stole the show with both bat and ball. He took 1  wicket for 31 runs and scored 28.

He had to his credit bagging of Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi (captain of India) out on first ball, an out swinger. He was one of the best out swingers in India at that time. He somehow missed the chance, when he was called for but was unable to attend, the India team trials.

At the Inauguration of The Punjab Public School, Nabha. The President Dr Rajender Parsad is being introduced to the staff. YPB is third from left in the faces seen.

Senior Master Dr Surjit Singh introducing Gyan Singh Kahlon, ICS , Chief secretary of Govt of Punjab to the staff. YPB sir is second from right. (Around 1962)

In the company of Geography teacher, Mr. Tankha, a diehard trekker, YPB also undertook many trekking trips to the mountains. In September, 1962, they with Mr. OP Bhatnagar took a group of seventeen boys to the Kolahai Glacier. On their return they gave a presentation with a slide show, which was remarkable in those days.

In March , 1965, he was one of the staff members at the first inaugural meeting held to start The Old Nabhiates Association.

He was also the Games master. He coached boys on the playground with vigor and enthusiasm. His dynamism rubbed off on all the teams of Hockey, Football and Cricket teams.

His passion for sports, especially cricket, endeared him to the boys. His amiable character, easy-going manners and friendly nature made him popular with both staff and students. He was full of action and inspired students to aim and achieve higher. His former students fondly recall his favourite word “WASTER‟ that he would use for anybody who was lazy and showed a lack of initiative.

He was an extrovert, witty, with a great sense of humour, (Mr. Kate would often turn to him for light talk when needed). He had that slow swaggering walk, keen observant eyes, with a good sense of dress, flamboyant and stylish demeanour which left an indelible impression on the minds of young boys of the school. No wonder boys admired him, respected him, adored him and wanted to emulate his mannerisms. HE WAS THEIR “ROLE MODEL”.

YPB sitting in his usual relaxed and cool style with the great Senior Master of the School Mr SC Cowell. Both in a great happy moment.

Mr. Bhardwaj, after a six-year stay at PPS, made a career  move to Mayo College, Ajmer.  On May, 8th, 1966, before the end of the term, Home day dinner was held early  as Mr Kate the Headmaster put it, to enable the school to bid farewell to departing staff members Mr. YP Bhardwaj, Mr. Lowell Edwards and Mr. David Goldberg (Peace Corps teachers from US).

He  gained significantly in experience in the first school he served. Many years later he again served under Mr. JK Kate at The Sports School, Rai, which he also later headed. Based on the knowledge and experience gained under Mr. Kate, he went on to head many elite schools and became an acclaimed educationist. Under one of the greatest Headmasters of India, he had learnt the ropes of efficient and ideal running of a Public School.

The Punjab Public School, Nabha honoured him with the highly coveted Life Time Achievement Award in 2015 for meritorious services to the School and later to education in the different schools he served.

As guest at the ONA dinner with the Punjab Governor Gen. Jacob at PCA  Club, Mohali (2001)

The forty-year reunion of 1967 batch in the Naval Mess on Shahjahan road. Mr. and Mrs. Bhardwaj were the guests of honour at the occasion. Here they are sitting in the center.(2007)

Mr. YP Bhardwaj in October , 2012 with his former student and now the chief of Army Staff (COAS) of India, General Bikram Singh (B-71,1968).

____________________________________________________

Yash Pal Bharadwaj passed away on 25th August, 2021. Below are some of the tributes paid by students and colleagues of YPB from across the world.

 

The Punjab Public School Nabha and The Old Nabhaites Association ‘Family’ is shocked by the passing away of their beloved ‘The First History Teacher of the School’, Mr. Yash Pal Bhardwaj, on 25th of August, 20121. The ‘Family’ shares the sorrow of Mrs. Mondira Bhardwaj and Bhardwaj children and offers its heartfelt condolences.

*

YPB had been my close friend in the PPS and Mayo. All the praise that his colleagues and pupils are singing for him are correct. He has been a large-hearted gentle man. It is extremely rare to find sportsman of his level of skill and spirit. He has been highly intelligent and witty.

He was born in South Africa. He was St Stephen’s Hockey captain. He played Ranji Trophy for Delhi for nearly 8 yrs and also played for Southern Punjab as an opening bowler and opening batsman. During his hay days he was the best outswinger in India. He was called for test trials, but he couldn’t go. He played Basketball for Delhi state. In Mayo he played tennis very well.

Initially all of us took him as sports person and not as a good classroom teacher. Gradually I found that he was a wonderful teacher of his subject. What he taught was on students’ fingertips. His residence was never locked. Boys of Jumna House could freely go, sit on his sofa in his absence and read magazines. He was a cricket coach per excellence. I have been very close to him. During 1960 floods the whole school camped for 5-6 months in the Junior School building. He was my room- mate. He was more than eager to help anyone anytime. He is adorable.

Soon after joining I was chatting with him in May 1960 in his room. I mentioned that I drew portraits from life. He immediately gave me his letter pad and a red pencil and asked me to do his portrait. Material was unsuitable, light was unsuitable. I still did his portrait. He preserved that for at least four decades. Out of all the teachers, who are still living, I have been his closest friend. He made immense contribution to PPS. He is a gem.

I wish him complete recovery. May God restore him to perfect health.

O.P. Bhatnagar, (An old message, some time back from the Ex-Hindi and Arts Teacher, The PPS) (Pune).

*

He was a great teacher and had his individual style of teaching. I remember him walk into the class with a book and a note book in his hand or under his arm wearing a nice tweed jacket with elbow leather patches. He would head straight for the black board, pick up a chalk and start writing in his neat handwriting from the note book, the lesson notes for the day in abbreviated form with dashes in between. We would copy it down in our note books. This would take about ten to fifteen minutes. Then, he would explain the lesson to us in a clear fashion. After another fifteen minutes, he would do few minutes of light talk, humouring some individual students in the class. In the last ten minutes he would take out the book which was titled, “101 great lives”. He would pick up one life of a great historical personality from it and read it to the class. It could be Captain Cook, Napoleon, Alexander, Abrahm Lincoln, Churchill, Caesar or Dr Livingstone.

What a great way of impacting the minds of young with history!

Good bye Sir!

Dr. Jashanjot Singh (S-52,1967), Mohali

*

Dear Benu, Chumki and Rana, I am stunned, shocked and saddened to know that our dear Yash is no more. Thousands of his grateful students and, like me, hundreds of his admirers, mourn the loss. May God grant his soul eternal peace and give you all the strength to bear this irreparable. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. I share your sorrow with you.

BS Bhatnagar (ex-English Master, The PPS), Hong Kong

*

Rarely do we come into contact with a person like YPB. He was for us the House Master, parents, friend, philosopher, guide and of course History Teacher, all rolled into one. May the divine grant him eternal peace.

Om Shanti;

Kedarnath Bansal (J-4,1964), Nabha

*

We use to eagerly look forward to his coming to junior school to teach us History, as 10 year olds we use to look out of our class room window , we had the corner class room in class 5.He use to  come on a bicycle. We loved each moment of his class.

He was so full of life and energy. Farewell dear Sir. 🙏🙏

Jyoti Kate (R-52,1967), Pune

*

The inevitable has happened with the passing away of YPB Sir. Glowing tributes are just pouring in which again are inevitable. One wonders how one can put in words to describe someone Ike YPB. Personally, we, who were in PPS in the early 60s were lucky to have him for a good period of time since he left for his new assignment. I personally remanence the fond memories and shall cherish them for the rest of my life. My prayers to the Almighty to give strength to the family to bear this irreparable loss. Rest in peace dear sir till we meet again. Om Shanti!

if YPB is so lauded, it is because he had in him something unique, as the saying goes ‘successful people don’t do different things, they do things differently’. YPB surely is an epitome of the teaching profession.

Dr. Narinder Kohli (B-79,1966), Calcutta

*

Extremely sorry to read about the demise of Mr Bhardwaj. A very lovable teacher. May his soul rest in peace. May Almighty give strength and courage to the family to bear the loss. RIP Sir

Col Dr Dharamveer Chhiber, Canada (R-39,1963)

*

Extremely sad news. He was a great soul. He was indeed a combination of simplicity and  style. A totally down to earth Personality with humane approach. He   imbibed in us the spirit to be a fighter as also to accept defeat in an honourable manner. I remember the Julu Dance performed by Jumma House in African style after winning Inter House Football match. His Motto of Straight Bat and modest mind was a success mantra in my life. He was and will continue to be a Role Model to his students.His loss is irreparable to the Educational Fraternity.

Om Shanti!

Maj Gen Suresh Tiwari (J-34,1963), Jaipur

*

Pushapraj: Hello Uncle – this is really sad news. I remember him fondly, as I used to call him थप्पड़ uncle. Please pass on my heartfelt condolences to his family.

👆🏿Above is the message I received from Monty Tankha (USA) son of Mr and Mrs Tankha. Yash was a very close friend of the Tankhas.

*

Really sad to learn!

Ma’m kindly accept our heartfelt condolences. Sir will always be alive in our memories. Sir YPB was one of the greatest teachers of The PPS. Those of us who have spent the formative years of the school in the early 60’s won’t ever forget him. In Jan,1961 my Father handed me over to him as J 51 in the corridor outside the tuck shop and was gone in a jiffy! Sir YPB leaves a mark in the golden pages of the history of The PPS! An all-rounder in all spheres of the school activities. But most of all a most stylish personality par excellence!

Vijay Plaha (J-51,1964), New Delhi

*

YPB was one of our founder teachers. Handsome, stylish, flamboyant. He could play any sport like a pro.Laid a strong foundation for sports at PPS.

Col Amarjit Shahid (B-102,1971), Canada

*

A dear friend and the only one left out of those who joined The PPS (Sainik School) in 1960.We are shattered with the sad news! God bless his soul &grant strength to bear this loss!

Mondira Bharadwaj has been very brave throughout his suffering!!

Our heartfelt condolences! 🕉Shanti!!!

Mrs KPK Tandon (who joined with YPB in 1960 as founder teacher).Mohali

*

So very sorry to hear. My heartfelt condolences to the family. A true stalwart. He will be missed.  His contributions in every field were enormous and will be remembered in the annals of PPS history. RIP.

Pushapraj, (PA to Headmaster JK Kate in 1960-70s), USA

*

So sorry to learn about the passing away of Mr YPB. He will be remembered for long time. Om Shanti!!

Dr Satish Jain (R-107,1970, in hospital himself, post-surgery), Delhi

*

Mondiraji.

I am shocked to know about your loss. I will always miss him. I was very close to him. We used to eat, play, have discussion and do many things and go on treks and tours. What a man!

A rarest of the rare gem. I share your grief. My wife joins me in offering my heartfelt condolences to you and to every member of your family. May God grant eternal peace to the noble soul and give strength to you all to bear the unbearable.  Om, shanti, shanti, shanti!!!

O.P. Bhatnagar (Ex-Hindi Teacher), Pune

*

YPB – Sir, at the time ‘we were boys in the school’, he was larger than life, almost an iconic figure. He had that wonderful swagger and was flamboyant in his younger days. He would talk about getting Mansur Ali Khan alias Nawab of Pataudi, on his first delivery in a Ranji match. He would fondly talk about his dating Ms. Reita Faria, who probably was first Asian Miss world. All these musings which come to my mind really made him larger than life to those associated with him.

His life is reminiscent of two iconic movies -To Sir with Love with Sidney Poitier as the main lead and ‘Goodbye Mr. Chips’, with Peter O’Toole in the lead. The handsome face of YPB, makes me think of Peter O’Toole and he being his look alike.  Goodbye YPB Sir. 💐

Davinder Sodhi, DGM, SBP (Retd.) (J-75, 1969), Chandigarh

*

A very popular teacher and a keen sports person. Lived a wholesome life. May his soul rest in eternal peace. 🕉 Shanti

Gen. Vinay Sharma (S-129,1967), Gurgaon

*

Deeply grieved to hear of the sad sad demise of our MOST RESPECTED HISTORY TEACHER, Mr.Yashpal Bharadwaj. What a noble soul!……A thorough gentleman and a wonderful HUMANBEING. It was an honour to be his student till Class 11. What a noble soul…….a perfect gentleman…….a great cricketer ……..and MOST IMPORTANTLY our outstanding HISTORY TEACHER.

Kulwinder, Ex-headmaster, GGSPS, Sangrur. (R-44,1967)

*

YPB Sir, was a great man and a human being. Excellent cricketer. Taught us history and made it interesting to learn. Was our Jamuna housemaster. Last met him in Delhi get together of our batch at Kota house. Learnt a lot from him. Great loss for all of us. May his soul rest in peace. God bless!

Col Harjit Chahal (J-49,1967), Chandigarh

*

Deeply saddened. Gentleman, cricketer, historian, perfect House Master, motivator and well-wisher.

Even if you were the audience for the tennis ball cricket or football you were part of the group to go to Greens for the ice cream! Nick name ‘Black Knight’ for me was his brain child.

The only person who had 6 pairs of the same shoe so they were cleaned and polished once a week for use each day. Learnt a lot. Taught by example.

RIP Sir.

Cmdr. IJ Arora, retd. (J-40, 1967), USA

*

Very sad to hear of YPB’s going. Very very sad, indeed. As our cricket coach (And didn’t he enjoy sharing in good fun how he got Pataudi out with an outswinger!) and teacher of history, he was my hero at school and the single greatest influence to have fashioned my life. Thank you, Sir, and Mr Sibal for making the time to come my screening at the Habitat in Delhi a few years ago. How I wish I could have thanked you more. There are certain artistic debts in life one can never redeem. May YPB be stylishly happy wherever he is.

Vijay Singh (Author, film maker, director, journalist in PARIS) (B-113,1967), Paris

*

Sad news a teacher who was friendly and made us feel happy to attend his class and a good sports man and hero Our prayers to God to rest his soul Rest In Peace

Maj VS Bindra (USA) (B-51,1967), USA

*

He never liked boys to walk about with their hands in their pockets even if it was very cold. He was always very smartly dressed and expected the boys to be so. While in school or playing cricket. Once after a player got out and left his bat for the next batsman, he asked him to pick up his bat and walk back. Don’t walk without a bat.

God bye Sir!

Vilas Kate (S-96,1970), Pune

*

Heartfelt condolences to the family. A dedicated teacher, I was fortunate to have been his student. May he achieve sadgati. Om Shanti.🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

Basanti Sathu (R-73,1967), New Zealand

*

Will always remember YPB…had the good fortune of visiting him at CR park and just sitting next to him in solitude one evening not so long ago for an hour or so….a great teacher and friend….will always remember playing football with a tennis ball on the side of the building…three sides built. Jumna house on Sunday evenings….RIP Great Teacher…🙏 especially for Jumna House boys! Playing Tennis ball football with him was so much fun! Other players: Budh Prakash, S Tiwari, Hoshiar Singh Harpreet et al.

And the high treat was that once in a while we jumped the back gate with him and he treated us to coke and ice cream at the Green Hotel…

And no one else but I will remember this greatest lesson taught to me… to be humble by YPB ..I  joined PPS from ninth class onwards coming from St Francis High School, Amritsar. I was new in school and took nine wickets in an innings against Ravi House and began gloating about it. News reached Mr. YPB through ‘Bhoond ji’ (Kulwant Dhindsa) and boy in the history class next day he really admonished me saying the famous words ‘Man is indispensable ‘ by Mahmud of Ghazni.

Also told, JS Bedi (J-3), the cricket captain not to offer me the new ball against Kunjpura…and lead the bowling attack thru ‘Bumper'(Naresh Sehgal, Mehta and himself and made me field as the long wicket keeper. I can easily say that most of my personality was shaped and groomed by YPB   and I would believe so many others that passed out of PPS.

Dr. Ishpal Ghai (J-61,1964), Delhi

*

An excellent teacher and a great man with lots of style and substance. Will always be missed. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

Col Kulwant Gill (B-25,1966), Canada

*

Our childhood inspiration and motivation. Exceptional personality. May his soul be with Cod

Col JS Soharu (B-30,1966), Gurgaon

*

Who can forget him? Rest teacher. May his soul RIP.

Harikirtan Singh (S24,1966) CPA, Canada

*

A stylish personality with superb aura; a great educationist & excellent sportsman who was our housemaster. He was also Director & Principal Motilal Nehru Sports School, Rai (Sonipat). May God bless his soul.

Col Ram Singh (J-31,1966), Delhi

*

No doubt was a great teacher & a good coach. RIP sir

Suresh Khanna (B-26,1966), Canada

*

Today I’m feeling sad coz I’ve lost my house master. He was my idol. ‘Coz of my boxing and gym, he had nicknamed me as ‘Chutt’, the name I still carry proudly.

Col Niranjan Salaria (J13,1966), Pathankot

*

Very sad! Will always remember him, Condolences om shanti om! God bless departed soul.

Brig Yashpal (S-43,1967 H.Sc) Gurgaon

*

A sad day. YPB sir, was not only my cricket coach but also taught history. We used to enjoy playing soccer next to Jamuna house on Sundays. May the departed soul rest in peace.

Shivpal Virk (R-40,1965), (first boy to score a century in school). USA, Florida Police,

*

This first delivery dismissal of Tiger Pataudi was at Patiala Baradari ground. 1965.

He had gone from school to Patiala to play that match. The few students who were taken to watch the match were proud witnesses.

Col Inderpal Singh (J-77,1965), Chadigarh

*

An icon for generations of PPS students. I was fortunate to be mentored by him as my house master, cricket coach and above all as a student of history that he taught. Time and space will never do justice to YPB’s contribution to character building and molding the minds of us 10:11/12-year-olds in the school. An oak has fallen. He now sups with God leaving earth that much poorer with his absence. May his soul rest in eternal peace. 🙏🙏

Admiral Jagjit Singh Bedi (J-3,1963-ISC), Pune

*

Very, very sad indeed… he never taught me, but was a favourite of J40, Inderjit, my elder brother… I was in touch with him while working with Dr. Lal Path Labs in Delhi. I had been to his place in Chittaranjan Park, did some tests for him… ace cricketer, learnt sportsmanship from him… in fact, come to think of it – whenever the word sportsmanship is said, somewhere at the back of my mind I’m reminded of him… Sad to know he’s passed away…

Dr. Param Dayal Singh (J-108,1970) , Pune

*

Very sad. He was a great teacher, sportsman and house master 🙏

Satnam Waheguru 🙏

Cmdr. Mitinder Sethi (J-76,1966) Ex-IIT, Indian Navy. Pune

*

My heartful condolences on the sad demise of Mr. Y.P Bhardwaj my Guruji and mentor for cricket.

I.S Koonar (R-19,1967 H.Sc), Chandigarh (a cricket protégé of YPB who took 6 for 2 when YPS was bowled out for 11 runs in Feb 1967).

*

Good bye! Adieu! Sir, from your students and the staff of The Punjab Public School, Nabha who will never forget you as long as they live.

-Compiled and prepared by Dr Jashanjot (S-52,1967)

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Below is a link to the Tribute shared with Mrs. Mondira Bhardwaj wife of YPB Sir.

YPB

Mr. John Mallon, The Scotsman Who Came To Teach At, The Punjab Public School,Nabha.

Mr. John Mallon

(Taught from Sept, 1965- May1968)

(compiled by Dr. Jashanjot Singh (S-52,1967))

Mr. John Mallon in the center with Miss Anita Williams (VSO) . Photo from Fancy dress farewell party to 1967, ISC class by the Class Xth (1968). From left Dr.Jashanjot (S-52), Vijay Gehlout (J-96), Kanwar Vijay Singh (B-113), on right are Inderjit (J-40), Shailender Sharma (R-119,1968) and Varinder Bindra (B-51). Except Sharma , all are from 1967 batch.

He joined school in 1965 and bid farewell to the School in 1968. His services had been loaned to school by The British Council, Originally, he had come for just one year and half (1965) but ultimately, he had extended his stay for another two years. He must have loved the School and us.

Cheif guest Dharam Vira, Governor of Punjab being introduced to Staff by headmaster Mr JK Kate. from right Jasbir Lamba (Bhutalia), Mr.KC Tandon, Mr. OP Bhatnagar, Mrs. KPK Tandon , Mr MN Tankha and Mr John Mallon and Miss GB Malkani

A closer look at Mr Mallon from another picture at same time.

Mr. Mallon had functioned as the Head of English Department and earned the respect of staff and students alike. He faced many challenges but with persistence and tact his methods proved successful and the fruits are seen in the school results, which were usually the best among public schools in India. The reason why, The PPS had a meteoric rise in the 1960s.

From the 1967 Party

On account of his initiative and recommendation , British Council information documentaries or films had become  a regular weekly feature of the School. This feature continued for many years even after he had left. Many Old Nabhiates of that era would remember these films. He was instrumental in the school getting many books for its Library, from the British Council.

His students enjoyed his company in and out of classroom. He was highly respected by his colleagues and those he taught.

With ISC Class (Senior Cambridge) of 1967

With Class of 1966 post PT and Gymnastics display

No wonder, Mr. Kate often sought his advice on diverse matters.

Playing the Scottish bagpipe in a party held in the Senior School Dining Hall

With his famous MG car which he drove like a race driver leaving the onlookers in awe.

He even taught French on his own initiative, for six months to IIT classes, in early 1968 (1967 batch after their ISC exam). He would hand over French booklets for reading and for pronunciation he would bring his personal Tape recorder with spools and play it in the class. One of the students got inspired and went on to become a French journalist , author and film maker in Paris.

Mr and Mrs Mallon left Nabha at the end of May 1968.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Mallon  Family and Jyoti Kate (R-52,1967) 

The Mallons and Kate Families became very close friends during their stay in the PPS. In an article sent to me before 2010 Golden Jubilee of the School he wrote:

“The Mallon family life was full of friendship and hospitality, largely due to the Kates.  My wife, Ann, developed skills in Indian cuisine, helped by Nirmala Kate and her friends, and I acquired a preference for Indian and vegetarian food.  Our third child, Margaret, had been born in Hyderabad, and our fourth, Mairi, in Delhi, while we were at Nabha.  The last involved me with J K in my new MG in a collision with a military convoy on the Grand Trunk Road.  Predictably, J K’s contacts provided me with a jeep and a complete rebuild of the front of the MG –   as a safeguard a Puja was carried out on the car on its return.  Mr Oberoi, Sam Cowell’s replacement, became a great friend and tried to revise my written Urdu, while my sons became fluent in Hindi, Punjabi and even Tamil (the last from the ayah).  But when we returned to Edinburgh they ran wild at school and their weakest subject was English!  We were greatly helped by the Horlick’s management in Nabha, although I declined their invitation to head  in convoy at dawn for Delhi during the Indo-Pakistani war.”

At the end of the article he mentioned how much he had loved being at Nabha:

“There are a host of memories which would need a book to recount.

I have had many fascinating and happy postings.  Africa was a culture shock. We went on to Madrid and later South America – a lovely and exasperating land, and most recently Lisbon.  There were visits to Singapore, Korea, Ceylon, South Africa, Rhodesia, Greece, Italy, Iran (under the Shah) and Baghdad before its troubles.  But the most memorable experience was my all too brief three years in Nabha.  It was a privilege to serve under J K Kate in The Punjab Public School, which remains as his enduring legacy.”


At his home in Edinburgh, the Christmas of 2020

Basanthi Mathu (R-73,1967) who visited Mr.Mallon at his home in Edinburgh around 2017-18.


An article that Mr Mallon wrote for the Chronicle when the mercurial Headmaster of The PPS Mr. JK Kate retired from The PPS to join Daly College, Indore.

Mr. John Mallon also wrote an article “Nabha and the Great Headmaster” which he sent to me before Golden Jubilee in 2010. It is included in the section on “”The Founder Headmaster Mr.JK Kate

THE SAD NEWS

The news of Mr.John Mallon’s demise in Edinburgh was conveyed by his daughter Miari (who was born while at Nabha) to Goodie or Jyoti Kate (R-52,1967) daughter of Mr.JK Kate.


 

The following a is a message sent out to all Old Nabhaites by the President, ONA . Brig. Harinder Bedi (R-58,1968) informing them of Mr.Mallon’s passing away.

Please click on the link below.

In Fond Memory Of Mr John Mallon (2)


The Letter below was sent to Mairi with the the message that was sent to Old Nabhaites requesting for  tributes to Mr. John Mallon from his students. These tributes from his students were collected and compiled and forwarded by me to Mairi.

Dear Mairi,

The following was circulated among some of his students and I have compiled what different students of Mr. Mallon had to say at his passing away. I am sharing them with you:-

The Scotsman who came to The Punjab Public School to teach, is no more.

Mr. John Mallon’s daughter Mairi, born while at Nabha informed Goodie (Jyoti Kate , R-52,1967), today. He died peacefully with family around him.

Playing the Scottish bagpipe at a Party in the School Dining Hall.

Brig. Harinder Bedi (R-58,1968) , President of ONA has already informed everyone about the sad demise of Mr. John Mallon.

He was second senior teacher who came to The Punjab Public School, Nabha to facilitate the learning of English, courtesy the British Council,  in the newly started School in Punjab. The intake of boys in the school at that time was not always well versed in English. Mr. MDH Vodden, who was the first as we know who wrote the ‘School Song’ left in 1964. In 1965 he was followed by another great teacher Mr. John Mallon a Scotsman from Edinburgh. He was the Head of English department in the School.

Both these teachers played a great role in laying strong Foundations of the School in its formative years. Mr. Mallon fell in love with the school and India. So much so that he extended his stay by almost two years. He did not leave the School even when, a full-fledged Indo-Pak war was on in 1965.

If any Nabhaite, who was in School during 1965-68, has memory of this great teacher and would like to write about him, please send it to me. I will compile and forward them to his daughter Mairi who was born, while Mallons were at Nabha. This will be a tribute by Old Nabhiates to a great teacher.

Many of 1966 and 1967 batches have already sent their tributes.

Dr Jashanjot (S-52,1967) 9216950004 / jashanjot9@yahoo.com

Some of the reactions/tributes paid to on passing away of a much respected and popular Teacher.

There was Mr. Mallon who always gave me a lift. He would drive his car an English MG, at breakneck speed and we would be in time for assembly.

  • Jyoti Kate (R-52,1967) who would often take lift to senior school from Junior School , courtesy, Mr. Mallon

 We were very fortunate to have teachers from the British Council.

It gave the boys an excellent foundation. Mr. John Mallon joined Nabha after Mr. Vodden left in 1965. Mr. Mallon taught English from1965 to1968. It was because of him I developed a love for the subject. He was an excellent teacher and took a lot of pains over his teaching. He started a club called ‘Athenians’ for us when we were in class 10. He would get records from the British Council and make us listen to them in the assembly hall.

We managed to read anything we could lay our hands on. Apart from this my formal introduction to English literature was through Mr. John Mallon. He ignited my imagination and introduced me to Shakespeare. To this day I clearly recall the lines from Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet and can hear in my mind’s ear the voices of Richard Burton or Lawrence Olivier from the long-playing records of these plays that he obtained for us from the British Council. It was amazing how accurately these renditions followed the original text. Mr. Mellon had an olive-green MG roadster that I envy to this day.

  • Jyoti (R-52,1967) From ‘The Eagle’ archives

Mr. Vodden was followed by Mr Mallon and family whom I knew just for six months, but who also had a fruitful association with the school. The results of our boys spoke for the success of Mr. Vodden’s and Mr. Mallon’s hard work and effort and the speed with which many non-speakers of English picked up a foreign language was phenomenal.

  •  Roger Miall (First VSO from UK to have taught in The PPS in 1962-63.)

We had strict teachers like Mr. Cowell. We had fun teacher like Mr. Mallon.

  • Vineet Mehta, (J-72,1967)

Life is short and death is sure. In between we do what we do. He did good and inspired us. Suggestion to read 20 thousand leagues… to me came from him. Took me to Indian Navy and subs and to the nuke. May his noble soul RIP.

  • Commodore IJ Arora (J-40,1967), Indian Navy

Saddened to hear the passing away of Mr. Mallon, RIP sir.

  • Faqir Chand (S-53,1967)

Extremely sad to hear the passing away of Mr. Mallon. He was a pillar of strength as far as teaching English to us is concerned. Besides his other qualities, he is the one who taught us how to read  a newspaper and pick up new words from the paper. We owe our English speaking & writing skills to him. May his soul rest in peace. God bless .

  • Harjit Chahal (J-49,1967)

I  am very sad to hear about the passing away of Mr. John Mallon.

I still remember at this age of 70 years with what passion and emotion he taught us Literature, be it Shakespeare or Bernard  Shaw. He instilled in me the reading of classics. He brought out in me the creation of writing our own thoughts and imagination.

 I was fortunate to meet Mr. Mallon again after school in 2018 in Edinburgh, when I saw him, he was formally dressed as he always did, that took me back 50 years, I had tears in my eyes and all the memories of his teaching came flashing back.

He remembered his tenure of PPS vividly.

May God give strength to his family members to bear his loss.

Rest in Peace Mr.  Mallon.

  • Basanti Mathu (R-73,1967) , (New Zealand d/o Teacher PN Mathu at The PPS.)

There are umpteen times I have mentioned PPS in my interviews and TV things, how can I not! 

I was thinking precisely about writing around John Mallon’s French records! 

  • Vijay Singh Kanwar (B-113,1967), (2011, From The Eagle issue) 

I am deeply  saddened to hear of John Mallon’s passing. Though one knows that one has to go one day, it is sad to see him gone. Three things I owe to him which had a deep impact on my life – the first reading of Shakespeare, ‘To Sir with Love’ and a phonetically intoxicating French song he played in the class with the words ‘les enfants’. May you be happy in the universe beyond, Sir.  Respect.

  • Vijay Kanwar (B-113,1967), Paris. Journalist, author, film maker, director. (2021) vijay@vijaysingh.net

RIP, Mallon Sir!

  • Surinder Gill (B-53,1967), Seattle, USA

Our prayers for Mr. Mallon soul Rest In Peace and family to be able to bear the loss of a wonderful teacher who put in all efforts to help and teach with enthusiasm and carried all students of the class as a group. I still remember the first time he took our class he was very strict and after that in subsequent classes very friendly. Some of us asked him why he was so strict on the first day. He replied just wanted the students to know that if needed I could be strict. But it was never needed during the subsequent classes.

  • Maj.VS Bindra (B-51,1967), California, USA

RIP Mr. Mallon, you will be missed 🙏🏻

  • General RS Sujlana (B-134,1967)

Very sad. What I remember of him was that he was very modest and unassuming. Taught the A section. Our heartfelt condolences. We pray that his soul rest in peace.

  • A student

An everlasting smile on the face of our Guru (teacher) who knew how to keep himself and others CHEERFUL. May God bless his soul . Heartfelt condolences to Mr. John Mallon & his family.

  • Col Ram Singh (J-31,1967 H.Sc.)

May God Bless his soul.

  • Shy am Sunder Kaushal

He was a great teacher at Nabha  🙏Satnam Waheguru 🙏

  • Mitinder Sethi (J-76,1965) 

Sad indeed. May his soul rest in peace.

  • BD Singh (S-84,1969)

Very sad to learn about Mr. Mallon passing away. What I remember of him is that he was very modest and unassuming. Taught English to A section. Our heartfelt condolences to the family. We pray that his soul rest in peace.

  • Jaideep Sekhon (S-19,1967) Retired Estate manager PUDA

I recall John Mallon quite well. My first exposure to Shakespeare. He was very stylish too – the special chalk that he used, the MG car that he had, his dress sense, etc. He was a great teacher too. And, innovative. He managed to get LP records of the plays in our syllabus, films, etc. to embed the learning. As his student I owe him a debt of gratitude. Best Regards,

  • Ashok Balwani (R-90,1966) ; Director ,Hitachi Home appliances

Mr. John Mallon was an excellent English Teacher who deeply identified himself with his Scottish roots. I still    remember his teaching style while explaining paragraphs from our syllabus novel,  a science fiction “ The Chrysalids” by  John Wyndham. His method of teaching essay writing was unique. My heartfelt condolences on his demise. RIP.

  • Col MS Sandhu (S-54,1966)

Very sad to learn, my heartfelt condolences 💐 may his soul RIP. Still remember his olive-green MG car.

  • Kuwaran Athwal (S-178,1973)

Deeply saddened to learn about the transition of our favourite English Teacher- a smart, ever smiling person with  an excellent talent to communicate and Teach . If we speak good  English with correct pronunciation,  it is courtesy Mr. John Mallon. A silent prayer for the noble soul to rest in eternal peace and for the family members to bear this huge loss with fortitude. In grief ,Lt Gen

  • Vinay Sharma ( S-129)

I remember Mr Mallon as a polished immaculately dressed gentleman who looked a typical English Professor. Enjoyed his classes and give him full credit for my 3pt score in English Literature. I even remember his efforts at teaching us French .Despite his French beard, best efforts and his old French Record Player,  French always remained French for me.

He had a MG car which was rare those days .Remembered him, when MG car was now introduced in India. We were all lucky to have him as our teacher. May God give strength to the family to bear the loss 🙏

  • Col BS Grewal (s-50,1967)

In school, I was good at all subjects, but my Waterloo was English. Because of my low pass grades in English, I never got a good position in class.

In the ISC year, Mr. Mallon would often advise something to the effect, “write simple language, write (describe) what you actually see and write what you really think and feel” In the ISC final instead of attempting an essay, I wrote a story as an option. I wrote what I thought , felt and imagined in simple language. Low beholds! I got grade 3 in English language. Thanks! To you Sir. Never thought I would get that grade. Passing was the aim.

 Came to visit you two years back Sir, in Edinburgh to pay my respects, my misfortune could not meet you because of poor prior communication. Farewell Sir! and RIP🙏

  • Dr Jashanjot Singh (S-52,1967) 

Andrew was older and Ian was younger. Should have been 7 and 4 years old in 1964-65. It was nearly a daily chore for us to make sand castles behind the bathrooms of Sutlej House, towards the poultry farm in Jr school. Most of the good aspects of British English were taught to me by them. I remember looking at them with unadulterated (because they were our second master’s children) admiration speak flawless English. From Amritsar to PPS, Nabha , one of the best five schools in India  and then, playing nearly daily with a Scotsman’s children was the ultimate. A dream that has lasted till now . Sad to know that one of them has travelled to Heaven on his bike so that he extends a welcome to his Dad. ( I chose to express the demise of  Mr Mallon, this way. More emotional and less sad . He lived a full life ). My tributes to Mr Mallon . And heartfelt condolences to Mallon Family and the surviving son. Pray both the brothers are there and I continue to remember them the way I have, for so many years. May the Lord grant eternal peace to the departed soul . Au Revoir, sir. You are surely missed with pain deep inside me. God bless.

  • Col Ashwani Tanjani (S-118, 1970) 

I remember Mr. John Mallon, as not only  a unique teacher who had a unique way of teaching, but also as a friend, philosopher and a guide. I guess I earned this virtue because I was  the Head Boy of the school and in my duties as the  HB  there were numerous occasions which brought us together. John taught us English language and literature loud and clear. What was unique about his teaching skills was that he made the subject not only very easy but very clear and absorbing, so much so, that each time the class period ended, one just wanted that he could continue. John will always remain dear in my memories. My heartfelt condolences to the family and prayers to the Almighty to give them strength to bear this irreparable loss. I shall miss you John. RIP!.

  • Dr. Narinder Kohli (B-79,1966) 

To understand Scottish accents for me were not easy and I was not sure how I would be able to interact freely with John Mallon. However all my fears were allayed when he walked into Mr. Kate’s office and I was introduced to him. We spent about half an hour doing some paperwork relating to the matters of the personnel department.  Right from the first day of his arrival he kept a tight schedule relating to lesson plans and other details of his curriculum. Through his own personal typewriter he would type notes but when something major was to be typed or copied, we in the office, were there for him. 

A mild-mannered by nature he had no air about himself. Always dressed impeccably but did not care about his unfurled hair. John had a subtle sense of humour and was especially great at one-liners.

When John bought his MG car and brought it to Nabha, it was a rare sight. Imported cars were not common in those days. We all will admire this possession of his with pride. 

Once a student fell dangerously ill and had to be rushed to the Patiala hospital. Thanks to the help of John this student was transported in his car and reached Patiala in about 15 minutes. Those were the days when there was not much traffic on the roads.

John was very fond of English movies and would go to Phul theater in Patiala on Thursdays.  Once we ran into each other there. Thereafter,  he insisted on taking me along instead of my going by bus. I must say that I rode in his car the most than any other staff member.

A religious and family man, he and his family will go to a church in Patiala every Sunday since Nabha did not have a church in those days.

John has left a mark with his friendly attitude, generosities, care about fellow beings. He will be terribly missed.

They really had taken a great liking for each other. Both the Kates and Mallons became like families in the real true sense. I wish I could emphasize more about this friendship. The families were almost inseparable. They spent lots of evenings together over simple meals, laughing, cracking good standard jokes. I happened to be there on occasions.

  • Pushapraj (PA to Founder Headmaster Mr. JK Kate) 

Never really had a chance to study or interact with Mr. Mallon.

I do remember he used to drive like a race car driver, or I should say like a plane about to take off from the runway.

Once 1967, we were going in the school van to Patiala for the annual athletic meet.  Mr. Kate and Mallon sped past us in his MG. Our driver Milkhi Ram was another speedster, with all of us rooting, he tried his best to catch up but soon lost sight of them. He almost always flew in his MG from junior to sr. School.

RIP Sir, Om Shanti 🙏

  • Amarjit Singh Shaheed (b-102,1970)

Dr. Jashanjot Singh Bhangu (S-52,1967)

ONA Samman Samaroh of 1960s Founding Teachers.

‘The Pillars’-The Staff of early Sixties who laid the strong foundations of our SchoolChandigarh, November 22, 2020 : The Old Nabhaites Association (ONA) organized a function in continuation of the celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations The Old Nabhaites Association ( ONA),The Alumni association of the Punjab Public School, organized the ONA SAMMAN SAMROH (First Edition) for the Founder and Early Years Teachers and selected Non -teaching staff (Covering the period 1960-1970) at The Yadvindra Gardens, Pinjore, Shimla Highway,Distt Panchkula, Haryana

The event was conducted in keeping with Established GURU SHISHYA PARAM PARA wherein 39 Ex- Teachers including two ex – headmasters and seven non- teaching staff of the period 1960-70 were awarded the ONA SAMMAN PATRA and a Shawl. The function was broadcast alive all over the world on Zoom. Many ex- teachers and students participated online.

Brig. Harinder S. Bedi (R-58, 1968), President ,The Old Nabhaites Association.

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An over view of the Staff in 1960s  below  was prepared and read out by Dr. Jashanjot (S-52, 1967).

https://www.ppsona.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Overview-of-1960s.pdf

The short notes on 1960-70s staff as prepared  by Dr Jashanjot (S-52, 1967) for the occasion which could not be read out for paucity of time.

https://www.ppsona.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Short-mentions-of-Gurusw-rev1.pdf

Some Glimpses from the event:

  

Read Much More:-

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/old-nabhaites-fondly-remember-teachers-at-diamond-jubilee/articleshow/79374724.cms

https://www.cityairnews.com/content/old-nabhaites-association-samman-samaroh-held

https://www.babushahi.com/view-news.php?id=111319&headline=ONA-Samman-Samaroh-organized-by-The-Old-Nabhaites-Association

https://www.divyahimachal.com/2020/11/alumni-celebrates-diamond-jubilee-1960-70-teaching-non-teaching-staff-ona-award-letter-and-shawl

 

Inderbir Kakar, Wizard of Physics

Inder Bir Kakar, Wizard of Physics

(School tenure 1962-1977)

(Compiled by Dr. Jashanjot Singh, S-52,1967)

Inder Bir Kakar, an educationist par excellence, dedicated his life for the development of children.  Born in 1929 He completed his post-graduation in Physics from Aligarh Muslim University. Mr. Kakar stated his professional career as a Physics Teacher in Delhi Polytechnic (Delhi College of Engineering and Technology) in Delhi.

Mr IB Kakar as part of the elite staff of 1960s. He is in the first row standing ,fourth from left

Mr IB Mr Kakar looks on above Mr Kate’s arm as ladies of staff are introduced to a chief guest. Other two pictures show Mr Kakar involved in the Physics Exhibition of Founders’.

Mr IB Kakar on the left with MR JK Kate at latter’s farewell, Mrs Kakar is sitting with Mr Kate and Mr RC Bhalla looks on. Other two pictures are of the ‘Fancy dress’ farewell party of 1970 batch.

He joined the elite group of teachers at The Punjab Public School Nabha in 1962. He served the School in the capacity of Beas House Master and as the Head of Physics department until 1977.
In the year 1977 Mr. Kakar undertook the task of fulfilling one of the dreams of our former Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi for imparting quality education to the less privileged children of our Society. Thus he came to head The  Navyug School, a prestigious institution. This was funded by the Government of Delhi and under his able leadership reached great heights.

As Head of Navyug School,Delhi with PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, PM Indira Gandhi. Receiving the Bal Mitra award from PM Mrs. Indira Gandhi and ‘The Medal’.

Recognizing his efforts and contribution to the cause, the Government of India conferred him with the prestigious “Bal Mitra” (friend of the child) award. The award was personally handed over to him by PM Mrs. Indra Gandhi on 16th March 1983.
During his tenure at Navyug, the First Lady of United States of America Mrs. Rosalyn Carter visited School.

During his tenure at Navyug School the First Lady of USA Rosalyn Carter visited the School.Pictures show her in School and a letter shoe wrote to Mr. Kakar.

A celebrated Author he wrote nineteen books in Physics which were published by renowned publishers viz Oxford University press and Orient Longmans. List includes a series for NCERT. He was also for some time Physics Head Examiner, CBSE,

Some of the many books written by Mr IB Kakar.

Mr. Kakar left for his heavenly abode in 1984 while performing his duties as the Principal of the prestigious Army Public School Dhaula Kuan, New Delhi. He had moved there after a fulfilling tenure with Navyug School.

He is survived by his wife Mrs. Prem Mala Kakar, Old Nabhaites daughter Alka Bajaj (R-87,1969) and Sons Captain (Red) Ravinder Kakar (R-97,1971)  who won a Shaurya Chakra during a severe Orissa cyclone and Rajeev Kakar (B-288,1976).

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From “The Chronicle”

28th August 1962 ,When school reopened The Headmaster welcomed the new Teacher for Physics Mr IB Kakkar.

 

In September 1965 , the staff club was started. In a Badminton competition, Mr.Johri and Mr.Kakkar joined hands to lift the doubles trophy.
In August ,1968, Mr. I.B.Kakkar was also awarded a scholarship by the British Council to study for four months in England to learn new techniques for teaching of Physics.
In July 1969, On his return from England Mr.I.B.Kakkar took over the reins of Senior Beas House from Mr.Sibal who shifted base to Sutlej House in the absence of Mr.Y.P.Johri.
In September, 1969, After the teachers, it was Mr.G.S.Punia, the school Bursar who was awarded a British Council visitorship. While he was away, Mr.I.B.Kakkar officiated as the School Bursar.
In April, 1977, Mr.I.B.Kakkar, the wizard of physics and the former housemaster of Beas House bid adieu to the School after a dedicated service of 15 years and a special assembly was organized to bid farewell to him. He took up the appointment of Principal at The Navyug Public School New Delhi.

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Comments:
In an article ‘Pride of Punjab’ (on early years of school) by Mr. JK Kate written at the time of Silver Jubilee, in 1985 he wrote ;
Mr. KakKar worked very hard to improve upon Physics results. It was no surprise that many science students ended up with distinction in Physics.

 

As a student, I remember he laboured very hard as he was very keen that all his students did well in the exams. He used to be as anxious as the students on the day of the exam. He took great personal interest and put in a lot of effort for the well-presented Physics exhibition, every year on Founders’ Day, as pictures will tell you. – Jashanjot (S-52,1967)